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Full text of "The soul's conflict and victory over itself by faith"

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ReceiTed. . 



^ „. 


Accessions No..j^:^jf9.^-^ Shelf No, 

spimoq oin ui msrdTMJOVvqso.: j JO ouipop 8^1^ 40 osi^^'- 

'^<I would not live alway — live alway belovf ! 

no, I'll not linger, when bidden to go. 
,The days of our pilgrimage granted us here, 

Are enough for life's woes, full enough for its cheer. 
Would I shrink iVom the patli which the prophets of 

xVpostles and martyi-s, so joyfully trod 7 * 

While brethren and friends are all hastening hoi^e, 
Like a spirit unblest o'er tiie earth would I roam ] 

1 would not live alway — I ask not to stay, 
Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way ; 

"^here seeking for rest, I but hover around, 
^^e the patriarch's bird, and no resting is found : 
j^^.^e hope, when she paints her gay bow in the air, 
And i^^*^ brilliance to fiwie in the night of despair, 
g^y^T^j. fleeting angel ne'er sheds a glad ray, 

"Itvam of the piumage that bears him away. 
I would no . , ^, - , ^ 

Temptation ^'^ alway— thus fettered by sm; 
In a moment i^^^^^^' '^"^ corruption wlthl^ : 
Scarce the vict^^.^P^SV^^' ^^'^ ^'^7^^' tl^-e chain, ^ 
E'en the rapture ^ ^^3^^ ^^ l^ ^T^:\ ^'f'^'"' 
And the cup of thaP'^^'' '^ mmglcd with fears, 
T]ie festival trump ca?T''? Ym^ Penitent tears : 
But my spirit her own ^' y^^ songs, 
'f^ere prolongs. 
I would not live alway— , xi x i 

Immortality's lantp burils tS' ^^^l^<i^'^ tno tomb ; 
There,^too, is the pilloV ^^ ^nght mid the gloo 

head • '^'^ Christ bowed 

! soft be my slumbers on that 1 , , , 
And then the glad mom soon to fo7 i^' . • -, x 
When the sunrise of glory shall bu-sf ''''^' ^?Vf ' 
And the full matin song, as the sleenerl ^^^^.^^^^"S^"'' 
To shout in the morning, shall peal throlli^''^i^e g^jeg; 

vWho, who would live 'alway? away from hi.po^^ 
^\^-^ from yon heaven, that blissful abode, ' 

^ '^ ^c. the rivers of pleasure flow o'er the .i^jo-ht 

of glory eternally reigns : 
" all ages in harmony meet, 
hrethren transported to greet, 
e unceashigly roll, 
the feast of the soul. 

>v I hear ? 
c ^.et on mine ear ; 
rtals of gold ; 
i\uty beliold ! 
wings of a dove ! 








1 II H illl if II II II II II 11 II H II II il H II 11 II II II ll II II II II 11 II 11 II 11 II 11 II II II II 11 11 II II J 






















THERE be two sorts of people always in the visible Church ; 
one that Satan keeps under with false peace, whose life is 
nothing but a diversion to present contentments, and a running 
away from God and their own hearts, which they know can 
speak no good unto them, these speak peace to themselves, but 
God speaks none. Such have nothing to do with this scripture ; 
the way for these men to enjoy comfort, is to be soundly troubled. 
True peace arises from knowing the worst first, and then our 
freedom from it. It is a miserable peace that ariseth from igno- 
rance of evil. The angel troubled the waters, John v, and then 
cured those that stepped in. It is Christ's manner to trouble our 
souls first, and then to come with healing in his wings. 

But there is another sort of people, who being drawn out of 
Satan's kingdom and within the covenant of grace, whom Satan 
labours to unsettle and disquiet : being the god of the world, he 
is vexed to see men in the world, walk above the world. Since 
he cannot hinder their estate, he will trouble their peace, and 
damp their spirits, and cut asunder the sinews of all their en- 
deavours. These should take themselves to task as David doth 
here, and labour to maintain their portion, and the glory of a 
Christian profession. For whatsoever is in God, or comes from 
God, is for their comfort. Himself is the God of comfort; his 
Spirit most known by that office. Our blessed Saviour was so 
careful that his disciples should not be too much dejected, that 
he forgot his own bitter passion to comfort them, whom yet he 
knew would all forsake him : let not your hearts be tro%ibled, saith 
he. And his own soul was troubled to death, that we should 
not be troubled : whatsoever is written is written for this end ; 
every article of faith hath a special influence in comforting a be- 
lieving soul. They are not only food, but cordials ; yea, he put 
himself to his oath, that we mijht not only have consolation 
but strong consolation. The sacraments seal unto us all the com- 
forts we have by the death of Christ ; the exercise of religion, as 
Prayer, Hearing, Reading, &c. is that our joy may be full: the com- 
munion of saints is chiefly ordained to comfort the feeble minded 
and to strengthen the weak, God's government of his Church 
tends to this. Why doth he sweeten our pilgrimage, and let us 
see so many comfortable days in the world, but that we should 
serve him with cheerful and good hearts '? As for crosses, he doth 
but cast us down, to raise us up, and empty us that he may fill 
us, and melt us that we may be vessels of glory, loving us as well 


in the furnace, as when we are out, and standing by us all the 
while. We are troubledy but not distressed; perplexed, but not 
in despair; persecuted but not forsaken, 2 Cor. iv. 8. If we con- 
sider from what fatherly love afflictions come, how they are not 
only moderated, but sweetened and sanctified in the issue to us, 
how can it but minister matter of comfort in the greatest seeming 
discomforts'? How then can we let the reins of our affections 
loose to sorrow without being injurious to God and his provi- 
» dence 1 as if we would teach him how to govern his Church. 

What unthankfulness is it to forget our consolation, and to 
look only upon matter of grievance? to think so much upon two 
or three crosses, as to forget a hundred blessings? To suck poi- 
son out of that, from which we should suck honey ? What folly 
is it to straiten, and darken our own spirits? and indispose our- 
selves from doing or taking good ? A limb out of joint can do 
nothing without deformity and pain ; dejection takes off the wheels 
of the soul. 

Of all other, Satan hath most advantage of discontented per- 
sons, as most agreeable to his disposition, being the most discon- 
tented creature under heaven ; he hammers all his dark plots in 
their brains. The discontentment of the Israelites in the wilder^ 
ness provoked God to swear that they should never enter into his 
rest, Psalm xcv. ult. There is another spirit in my servant Caleb, 
saith God; the spirit of God's people is an encouraging spirit. 
Wisdom teaches them, if they feel any grievances, to conceal them 
from others that are weaker, lest they be disheartened. God 
threatens it as a curse to give a trembling heart, and sorrow of 
mind, Deut. xxviii. 65 ; whereas on the contrary, joy is as oil to 
the soul, it makes duties come off cheerfully and sweetly from 
ourselves, graciously to others, and acceptably to God, A prince 
cannot endure it in his subjects, nor a father in his children, to 
be lowering at their presence. Such usually have stolen waters to 
delight themselves in. 

How many are there that upon the disgrace that follows reli- 
gion, are frighted from it? But what are discouragements, to 
the encouragements religion brings with it? which are such as 
the very angels themselves admire at. Religion indeed brings 
crosses with it, but then it brings comforts above those crosses. 
What a dishonour is it to religion to conceive that God will not 
maintain and honour his followers ? as if his service were not the 
best service ; what a shame is it for an heir of heaven to be cast 
down for every petty loss and cross? to be afraid of a man whose 
breath is in] his nostrils, in not standing to a good cause, when 
we are sure God will stand by us, assisting and comforting us, 
whose presence is able to make the greatest torments sweet? 

My discourse tends not to take men off from all grief and 
mourning; L^ghtfor the righteous is sown in sorrow. Our state 


of absence from the Lord, and living here in a vale of tears, our 
daily infirmities, and our sympathy with others, requires it ; and 
where most grace is, there is most sensibleness, as in Christ. But 
we must distinguish between grief, and that sullenness and de- 
jection of spirit, which is with a repining and taking off from 
duty; when Joshua was overmuch cast down at Israel's turning 
their backs before their enemies, God reproves him, Get thee up, 
Joshua, why liest thou upon thy face? Joshua vii. 10. 

Some would have men after the committing of gross sins to be 
presently comfortable, and believe without humbling themselves 
at all ; indeed when we are once in Christ, we ought not to 
question our stale in him ; and if we do, it comes not from the 
spirit ; but yet a guilty conscience will be clamorous and full of 
objections, and God will not speak peace unto it till it be humbled. 
God will let his best children know what it is to be too bold with 
sin, as we see in David and Peter, who felt no peace till they 
had renewed their repentance : the way to rejoice with joy un- 
speakable and glorious, 2 Pet. x. is to stir up sighs that cannot be 
uttered. And it is so far, that the knowledge of our state in grace 
should not humble us, that very ingenuity considering God's love 
to us, out of the nature of the thing itself works sorrow and shame 
in us, to offend his Majesty. 
\ One main stop that hinders Christians from rejoicing is, that 
^ they give themselves too much liberty to question their grounds 
of comibrt and interest in the promises. This is wonderfully com- 
fortable say they, but what is it to me ? the promise belongs not 
to me. This ariseth from want of giving all diligence to make 
their calling sure to themselves. In watchfulness and diligence 
we sooner meet with comfort than in idle complaining. Our care 
therefore should be to get sound evidence of a good estate, and 
then likewise to keep our evidence clear ; wherein we are not to 
hearken to our own fears and doubts, or the suggestion of our 
enemy, who studies to falsify our evidence : but to the word, and 
our own consciences enlightened by the Spirit: and then it is pride 
and pettishness to stand out against comfort to themselves. Chris- 
tians should study to corroborate their title ; we are never more 
in heaven, before we come thither, than when we can read our 
evidences: it makes us converse much with God, it sweetens all 
conditions, and makes us willing to do and suffer any thing. 
It makes us have comfortable and honourable thoughts of our- 
selves, as too good for the service of any base lust, and brings 
confidence in God both in life and death. 

But what if our condition be so dark, that we cannot read our 
evidence at all? 

Here look up to God's infinite mercy in Christ, as we did at the 
first when we found no goodness in ourselves, and that is the way 
to recover whatever we think we have lost. By honouring God's 
mercy in Christ, we come to have the Spirit of Christ; therefore. 


when the waters of sanctification are toubled and muddy, letus nin 
to the witness of blood. God seems to walk sometimes contrary 
to himself; he seems to discourage, when secretly he doth en- 
courage, as the woman of Canaan ; but faith can find out these 
ways of God, and untie these knots, by looking to the free pro- 
mise and merciful nature of God. Let our sottish and rebellious 
flesh murmur as much as it will, who art thou? and what is thy 
worth ? yet a Christian knows whom he believes. Faith hath learned 
to set God against all. 

Again, we must go on to add grace to grace, A growing and 
fruitful christian is always a comfortable christian; the oil of 
grace brings forth the oil of gladness. Christ is first a king of righ- 
teousness, and then a king of peace, Heb. vii. 2 ; the righteousness 
that he works by his spirit brings a peace of sanctification, 
whereby though we are not freed from sin, yet we are enabled 
to combat with it, and to get the victory over it. Some degree 
of comfort follows every good action, as heat accompanies fire, 
and as beams and influences issue from the sun ; which is so true, 
that very heathens upon the discharge of a good conscience, have 
found comfort and peace answerable ; this is a reward before our 

Another thing that hinders the comfort of Christians is, that 
they forget what a gracious and merciful covenant they live 
under, wherein the perfection that is required is to be found in 
Christ, Perfection in us is sincerity : what is the end of faith 
but to bring us to Christ 1 Now imperfect faith, if sincere, knits 
to Chiist, in whom our perfection lies. 

God's design in the covenant of grace is to exalt the riches of 
his mercy, above all sin and unworthiness of man ; and we yield 
him more glory of his mercy by believing, than it would be to 
his justice to destroy us. If we were perfect in ourselves, we 
should not honour him so much, as when we labour to be found 
in Christ, having his righteousness upon us. 

There is no one portion of scripture oftener used to fetch up 
drooping spirits than this, Why art thou cast down my soul? it 
is figurative, and full of rhetoric, and all little enough to persuade 
th^ perplexed soul quietly to trust in God ; which without this 
retiring into ourselves and checking our hearts, will never be 
brought to pass. Chrysostom brings in a man loaden with troubles, 
coming into the Church, where, when he heard this passage 
read, he presently recovered himself, and becomes another man. 
As David therefore did acquaint himself with this form of deal- 
ing with his soul, so let us, demanding a reason of ourselves Why 
we are cast down ; which will at least check and put a stop to the 
distress, and make us fit to consider more solid grounds of true 

Of necessity the soul must be something calmed and staid be- 
fore it can be comforted. Whilst the humours of the body rage 


in a great distemper, there is no giving of physic : so when the 
soul gives way to passion, it is unfit to entertain any counsel, 
therefore it must be stilled by degrees, that it may hear reason ; 
and sometimes it is fitter to be moved with ordinary reason, (as 
being more familiar unto it) than with higher reasons fetched 
from our supernatural condition in Christ, as from the condition 
of man's nature subject to changes, from the uncomeliness of yield- 
ing to passion for that, which it is not in our power to mend, &c. ; 
these and such like reasons have some use to stay the fit for a 
while, but they leave the core untouched, which is sin, the trouble 
of all troubles. Yet when such considerations are made spiritual 
by faith on higher grounds, they have some operation upon the 
soul, as the influence of the moon having the stronger influence 
of the sun mingled with it becomes more effectual upon these in- 
ferior bodies. A candle light being ready at hand, is sometimes 
as useful as the sun itself. 

But our main care should be to have evangelical grounds of 
comfort near to us, reconciliation with God, whereby all things 
else are reconciled to us, adoption and communion with Christ, 
&c., which is never sweeter than under the cross. Philip Lans- 
grave of Hesse, being a long time prisoner under Charles the Fifth, 
was demanded what upheld him all that time? who answered, 
that he felt the divine comforts of the Martyrs : there be divine 
comforts which are fislt under the cross, and not at other times. 

Besides personal troubles, there are many much dejected with 
the present state of the Church, seeing the blood of so many 
saints to be shed, and the enemies oft to prevail ; but God hath 
stratagems, as Joshua, at Ai, he seems sometimes to retire that 
he may come upon his enemies with the greater advantage ; the 
end of all these troubles will no doubt be the ruin of the anti- 
christian faction ; and we shall see the Church in her more per- 
fect beauty when the enemies shall be in that place which is 
fittest for them, the lowest, that is, the footstool of Christ ; the 
Church as it is highest in the favour of God, so it shall be the 
highest in itself. The mountain of the Lord shall be exalted above 
all mountains. In the worst condition, the Church hath two faces, 
one towards heaven and Christ, which is always constant and 
glorious; another toward the world, which is in appearance con- 
temptible and changeable. But God will in the end give her 
beauty for ashes, and glory double to her shame, and she shall 
in the end prevail : in the mean time, the power of the enemies 
is in God's hand: the Church of God conquers when it is con- 
quered : even as our head Christ did, who overcame by patience 
as well as by power. Christ's victory was upon the cross. The 
spirit of a Christian conquers when his person is conquered. 

The way is, instead of discouragement, to search all the pro* 
mises made to the Church in these latter times, and to turn them 
into prayers, and press God earnestly for the performance of them. 


Then we shall soon find God both cursiug his enemies, and blessing 
his people out of Zion, by the faithful prayers that ascend Up 
from thence. 

In all the promises we should have special recourse to God in 
them. In all storms there is sea room enough in the infinite good- 
ness of God, for faith to be carried with full sail. 

And it must be remembered that, in all places where God is 
mentioned, we are to understand God in the promised Messiah, 
typified out so many ways unto us. And to put the more vigour 
into such places in the reading of them, we in this latter age of 
the Church must think of God shining upon us in the face of 
Christ, and our father in him. If they had so much confidence 
in so little light, it is a shame for us, not to be confident in good 
things, when so strong a light shines round about us : when we 
profess we believe a crown of righteousness is laid up for all those 
that love his appearing. Presenting these things to the soul by 
faith setteth the soul in such a pitch of resolution, that no dis- 
couragements are able to seize upon it. We faint not, saith St. 
Paul : wherefore doth he not faint 1 because these light and short 
afflictions procure an exceeding weight of glory, 

Luther when he saw Melancthon, a godly and learned man, too 
much dejected for the state of the Church in those times, falls a 
chiding of him as David doth here his own soul, / strongly hate 
those miserable cares, saith he, whereby thou writest thou art even 
spent. It is not the greatness of the cause, but the greatness of our 
incredulity. If the cause be false, let us revoke it. If true, why 
do we muke God in his rich promises a liar? Strive against thyself, 
the greatest enemy; why do we fear the conquered world, that have 
the conqueror himself on our side ? 

Now to speak something concerning the publishing of this trea- 
tise. I began to preach on the text about twelve years since in 
the city, and afterwards finished the same at Grays-Inn. After 
which, some having gotten imperfect notes, endeavoured to pub- 
lish them without my privity. I'herefore to do myself right, I 
thought fit to reduce them to this form. There is a pious and stu- 
dious gentleman of Grays-Inn, that hath of late published obser- 
vations upon the whole psalm ; and another upon this very verse 
very well : and many others, by treatises of faith and such like, 
have furthered the spiritual peace of Christians much. It were 
to be wished that we would all join to do that which the apostles 
gloried in, to be helpers of the joy of God's people, 2 Cor. i. ult. 
Some will be ready to deprave the labours of other men ; but, 
60 good may be done, let such ill disposed persons be what they 
are, and what they will be unless God turn their hearts : and 
so 1 commend thee and this poor treatise to God's blessing. 


Grays-Inn, July I, 1635. 


Chapter . Pa<^c' 

1. General observations upon the text 3 

2. Of discouragements from without 7 

3. Of discouragements from within 13 

4. Of casting down ourselves, and specially by sorrow. 

Evils thereof 25 

5. Remedies of casting down: to cite the soul, and press 

it to give an account 31 

6. Other observations of the same nature 38 

7. Difference between good men and others in conflicts 

with sin 50 

8. Of unfitting dejection: and when it is excessive. And 

what is the right temper of the soul herein 55 

9. Of the soul's disquiets, God's dealings, and power to 

contain ourselves in order 64 

10. Means not to be overcharged with sorrow 69 

11. Signs of victory over ourselves, and of a subdued spirit 83 

12. Of original righteousness, natural corruption, Satan's 

joining with it, and our duty thereupon . 90 

13. Of imagination : sin of it, and remedies for it 102 

14. Of help by others : of true comforters, and their graces. 

__ Method. lUsuccess 129 

15. Of flying to God in disquiets of souls. Eight observa- 

tions out of the text !.... 141 

16. Of trust in God: grounds of it: especially his providence 153 

17. Of graces to be exercised in respect of divine providence 162 

18. Other grounds of trusting in God : namely, the promises. 

And twelve directions about the same 172 

19. Faith to be prized, and other things undervalued, at least 

not to be trusted to as the chief 185 

20. Of the method of trusting in God, and the trial of that 

trust 193 

21. Of quieting the spirit in troubles for sin. And objections 

answered 203 

22. Of sorrow for sin, and hatred of sin, when right and suf- 

ficient. Helps thereto 216 

23. Other spiritual causes of the soul's trouble discovered 

and removed : and objections answered 225 


Chapter Page 

24. Of outward troubles disquieting the spirit ; and comforts 

in them 230 

25. Of the defects of gifts, disquieting the soul. As also the 

afflictions of the church 237 

26. Of divine reasons in a believer, of his minding to praise 
__^„ God more than to be delivered 242 

27. In our worst condition we have cause to praise God. 

Still ample cause in these days 248 

28. Divers qualities of the piaise due to God. With helps 

therein. And notes of God's hearing our prayers ... 257 

29. Of God's manifold salvation for his people ; and why 

open, or expressed in the countenance 271 

30. Of God, our God, and of particular application 279 

31. Means of proving and evidencing to our souls that God 

is our God 290 

32. Of improving our evidences for comfort in several pas- 

sages of our lives 297 

33. Of experience and faith, and how to wait on God com- 

fortably. Helps thereto 309 

34. Of confirming this trust in God. Seek it of God him- 

self. Sins hinder not: nor Satan. Conclusion and 
Soliloquy 321 





Yade, liber, pie dux animae, pie mentis Achates, 

Te relegens, fructu ne pereunte legat, 
Quam foelix prodis ! Prae sacro codice sordent, 

Bartole, sive tui; sive, Galene, tui, 

Fidus praeco Dei, ccelestis cultor agelli 

Assidui pretium grande laboris habet: 
Quo mihi nee vita melior, nee promptior ore, 

Gratior aut vultu, nee fuit arte prior. 

Nil opus ut nardum caro combibat uncta sabaeum, 

Altdve marmoreus sydera tangat apex : 
Non eget hie urna, non marmore ; nempe volumen 

Stat sacrum, vivax marmor, et urna, pio. 

Qui Christo vivens incessit tramite cceli, 

^thereumque obiit munus, obire nequit : 
•Ducit hie angelicis aequalia saecula lustris, 

Qui verbo studium contulit omne suum. 

Perlegat hunc legum cultrix veneranda senectus, 

Et quos plena Deo mens super astra vehit : 
Venduntur (quanti ! ) circum palatia fumi ! 

Hie sacer, altaris carbo minoris erit 1 

Heu ! pietas ubi prisca 1 profana 6 tempora ! mundi 
Faex ! vesper ! prope nox ! 6 mora ! Christe veni. 

Si valuere preces unquam, et custodia Christi, 
Nunc opus est precibus, nunc ope, Christe, tu^. 

Certat in humanis vitiorum infamia rebus, 

Hei mihi ! nulla novis sufficit herba malis? 
Probra referre pudet; nee enim decet : exprobret ilia 

Qui volet; est nostrum flere, silendo queri. 

Flere? Tonabo tuas, pietas neglecta, querelas: 
Quid non schisma, tepor, fastus, et astus agunt? 

Addo — Sed historicus Tacitus fuit optimus. Immo 
Addam — sphaerarum at musica muta placet. 

Edv. Benlosio. 
Cressince Templariorum, 
Prid. Cal. Febr. mdcxxxv. 


Fool that I was 1 to think my easy pen 

Had strength enough to glorify the fame 

Of this known author, this rare man of men ; 

Or give the least advantage to his name. 

Who think, by praise, to make his name more bright, 
Show the sun's glory by dull candle light. 

Blest saint ! thy hallow'd pages do require 
No slight preferment from our slender lays : 
We stand amazed at what we most admire ; 
Ah, what are saints the better for our praise ! 
He that commends this volume, does no more 
Than warm the fire or gild the massy ore. 

Let me stand silent then. O may that spirit. 
Which led thine hand, direct mine eye, my breast ; 
That I may read, and do ; and so inherit 
(What thou enjoy'st and taught'st), eternal rest ! 
Fool that 1 was ! to think my lines could give 
Life to that work, by which they hope to live. 

Francis Quarles. 



Why art thou cast down, my soull and why art thou 
disquieted within me ? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet 
praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my 
God, Psalm xlii. 

THE Psalms are, as it were, the anatomy of a holy 
man, which lay the inside of a truly devout man 
outward to the view of others. If the Scriptures be 
compared to a body, the Psalms may well be the 
heart, they are so full of sweet affections, and passions. 
For in other portions of Scripture God speaks to 
us ; but in the Psalms holy men speak to God and 
their own hearts : as 

In this Psalm we have the passionate passages of 
a broken and troubled spirit. 

At this time David was a banished man, banished 
from his own house, from his friends, and, which trou- 
bled him most, from the house of God, upon occasion 
of SauFs persecution, who hunted him as a partridge 
upon the mountains. See how this works upon him. 

1. He lays open his desire springing from his love. 
Love being the prime and leading aifection of the soul, 
from whence grief springs, from being crossed in that 
we love. For the setting out of which his affection to 
the full, he borroweth an expression from the hart ; no 



hartjbeing chased by the hunters, parz^e^ A more after 
the waters, than my heart doth after thee, O God, 
ver. 1 : though he found God present with him in exile, 
yet there is a sweeter presence of him in his ordinances, 
which now he wanted and took to heart : places and 
conditions are happy or miserable, as God vouch- 
safeth his gracious presence more or less ; and there- 
fore, Wheii, when shall it be, that I appear before 

2. Then after his strong desire, he lays out his 
grief, which he could not contain, but must needs 
give a vent to it in tears : and he had such a spring 
of grief in him, as fed his tears day and night, ver. 
3 ; all the ease he found was to dissolve this cloud 
of grief into the shower of tears. 

But, why gives he this way to his grief ? 

Because together with his exihng from God's house, 
he was upbraided by his enemies, with his religion : 
where is now thy God? ver. 3. Grievances come 
not alone, but, as Job's messengers, follow one ano- 
ther. These bitter taunts, together with the remem- 
brance of his former happiness in communion with 
God in his house, made deep impressions in his soul, 
when he remembered how he went with the multi- 
tude into the house of God, ver. 4, and led a goodly 
train with him, being willing, as a good magistrate 
and master of a family, not to go to the house of God 
alone, nor to Heaven alone, but to cany as many as 
he could with him ; oh ! the remembrance of this 
made him pour forth (not his words or his tears only, 
but) his very soul. Former favours and happiness 
makes the soul more sensible of all impressions to the 
contrary ; hereupon, finding his soul over sensible, 
he expostulates with himself, Why art thou cast down, 


O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within 
me ? &c. 

But though the remembrance of the former sweet- 
ness of God's presence did somewhat stay him, yet 
his grief would not so be stilled, and therefore it gathers 
upon him again ; one grief called upon another, as 
one deep wave follows another, ver. 7, without inter- 
mission, until his soul was almost overwhelmed under 
these waters ; yet he recovers himself a little with 
looking up to God, who he expected would with speed 
and authority send forth his loving kindness with 
command to raise him up and comfort him, and give 
him matter of songs in the night, ver. 8. For all this, 
his unruly grief will not be calmed, but renews as- 
saults upon the return of the reproach of his enemies. 
Their words were as swords, ver. 10, unto him, and 
his heart being made very tender and sensible of grief, 
these sharp words enter too deep ; and thereupon he 
hath recourse to his former remedy, as being the most 
tried, to chide his soul, and charge it to trust in God. 

CHAP. 1. 

General Observations upon the Text, 

HENCE in general we may observe ; that Grief 
gathered to a head will not be quieted at the 
first. We see here passions intermingled with com- 
forts, and comforts with passions, and what bustling 
there is before David can get the victory over his own 
heart : you have some short spirited Christians, that 
if they be not comforted at the first, they think all 
labour with their hearts is in vain, and thereupon give 
way to their grief. But we see in David, as distemper 
ariseth upon distemper, so he gives check upon check, 


and charge upon charge to his soul, until a;t length he 
brought it to a quiet temper. In physic, if one purge 
will not carry away the vicious humour, then we 
add a second ; if that will not do it, we take a third : 
so should we deal with our souls, perhaps, one check, 
one charge will not do it, then fall upon the soul 
again ; send it to God again, and never give over until 
our souls be possessed of our souls again. 

Again, In general observe in David's spirit, that a 
gracious and living soul is rnost sensible of the want 
of spiritual means. 

The reason is because spiritual hfe hath answerable 
taste, and hunger and thirst after spiritual helps. 

We see in nature, that those things press hardest 
upon it, that touch upon the necessities of nature, 
rather than those that touch upon delights, for these 
further only our comfortable being; but necessities 
uphold our being itself: we see how famine wrought 
upon the patriarchs to go into Egypt : where we 
may see what to judge of those who willingly excom- 
municate themselves from the assemblies of God's 
people, where the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are 
present, where the prayers of holy men meet together 
in one, and as it were bind God, and pull down God's 
blessing. No private devotion hath that report of ac- 
ceptance from Heaven. 

A third general point is, that a godly soul, by reason 
of the life of grace, knows when it is well with it, 
and when it is ill, ivhen it is a good day with it, and 
when a bad ; when God shines in the use of means 
then the soul is as it were in Heaven ; when God 
withdraws himself, then it is in darkness for a time. 
Where there is but only a principle of nature without 
sanctifying grace, there men go plodding on and keep 


their rounds, and are at the end where they were at 
the beginning; not troubled with changes, because 
there is nothing within to be troubled ; and therefore 
dead means, quick means, or no means, all is one 
with them, an argument of a dead soul. And so we 
come more particularly and directly to the words, 
Why art thou cast down^ O my soul ? and luhy art 
thou disquieted within me ? &c. 

The words imply, 1. David's state wherein he was ; 
and, 2. express his carriage in that state. 

His state was such that in regard of outward con- 
dition, he was in variety of troubles ; and that in re- 
gard of inward disposition of spirit, he was first cast 
downy and then disquieted. 

Now for his carriage of himself in this condition, 
and disposition, he dealeth roundly with himself: 
David reasoneth the case with David, and first checketh 
himself for being too much cast down, and then for 
being too much disquieted. 

And then layeth a charge upon himself to trust in 
God ; wherein we have the duty he chargeth upon 
himself, which is to trust in God, and the grounds 
of the duty ; 

First, from confidence of better times to come, 
which would yield him matter oi praising God. 

And then by a representation of God unto him, 
as a saving God in all troubles, nay, as salvation it- 
self, an open glorious Saviour in the view of all. The 
salvation of my countenance, and all this enforced 
from David's interest in God, He is my God. 

Whence observe, first, from the state he was now 
in, that since guilt and corruption hath been derived 
by the fall, into the nature of man, it hath been sub- 
jected to misery and sorrow, and in that all con- 


ditions from the king that sitteth on the throne to 
him that grindeth at the mill. None ever hath been 
so ^ood or so great, as could raise themselves so high 
as to be above the reach of troubles. 

And that choice part of mankind, the first fruits 
and excellency of the rest, (which we call the Church) 
more than others, which appears by consideration 
both of the head, the hody^ and members of the 
Church. For the head Christ, he took our flesh as 
it was subject to misery after the fall, and was, in re- 
gard of that which he endured^ both in life and death, 
a man of sorrows. 

For the body the Church, it may say from the first 
to the last as it is Psal. cxxix. From my youth up 
they have afflicted me. The Church began in blood, 
hath grown up by blood, and shall end in blood, as it 
was redeemed by blood. 

For the members, they are all predestinate to a con- 
formity to Christ their Head, as in grace and glory, 
so in abasement, Rom. viii. 29. Neither is it a won- 
der for those that are born soldiers to meet with con- 
flicts, for travellers to meet with hard usage, for sea- 
men to meet with storms, for strangers in a strange 
country (especially amongst their enemies) to meet 
with strangle entertainment. 

A Christian is a man of another world, and here 
from home, which he would forget (if he were not 
exercised here) and would take his passage for his 
country. But though all Christians agree and meet 
in this, that through many afflictions we must enter 
into heaven y Acts xiv. 22 ; yet according to the di- 
versity of place, parts, and grace, there is a diflerent 
cup measured to every one. 

And therefore it is but a plea of the flesh, to except 


against tlie cross, Never was poor creature distressed 
as I am : this is but self-love, for was it not the case 
both of head, body, and members, as we see here in 
David a principal member? When he was brought 
to this case, thus to reason the matter with himself, 
Why art thou cast down, my soul? and why art 
thou disquieted within me? 

From the frame of David's spirit under these trou- 
bles, we may observe, that as the case is thus with 
all God's people, to be exercised with troubles. They 
are sensible of them oftentimes, even to casting down 
and discouraging. And the reason is, they are flesh 
and blood, subject to the same passions, and made of 
the same mould, subject to the same impressions from 
without as other men ; and their nature is upheld with 
the same supports and refreshings as others, the with- 
drawing and want of which affecteth them. And be- 
sides those troubles they suffer in common with other 
men, by reason of their new advancement, and their 
new disposition they have in and from Christ their 
head, they are more sensible in a peculiar manner of 
those troubles that any way touch upon that blessed 
condition, from a new Hfe they have in and from Christ, 
which will better appear if we come more particularly 
to a discovery of the more special causes of this distem- 
per : some of which are, 1. Without us, 2. Some 
within us, 


Of Discouragements from ivithout, 

1. /^^ OD himself: who sometimes withdraws the 

VJT beams of his countenance from his children, 

whereupon the soul even of the strongest Christian is 

disquieted ; when together with the cross, God himself 


seems to be an enemy unto them. The child of God, 
when he seeth that his troubles are mixed with God's 
displeasure, and perhaps his conscience tells him that 
God hath a just quarrel against him, because he hath 
not renewed his peace with his God, then this anger 
of God puts a sting into all other troubles, and adds 
to the disquiet. There were some ingredients of this 
divine temptation (as we call it) in holy David at this 
time : though most properly a divine temptation be, 
when God appears unto us as an enemy, without any 
special guilt of any particular sin, as in Job's case. 

And no marvel if Christians be from hence dis- 
quieted, when as the Son of God himself, having always 
before enjoyed the sweet communion with his Father, 
and now feeling an estrangement, that he might be a 
curse for us, complained in all his torments of nothing 
else, but My God, my God, why hast thou forsa- 
ken me ? Mat. xxvii. 46. It is with the godly in this 
case, as with vapours drawn up by the sun, which 
(when the extracting force of the sun leaves them) fall 
down again to the earth from whence they are drawn. 
So when the soul, raised up and upheld by the beams 
of his countenance, is left of God, it presently begins 
to sink. We see when the body of the sun is partly 
hid from us (for totally it cannot in an eclipse by the 
body of the moon) that there is a drooping in the 
whole frame of nature : so it is in the soul, when 
there is any thing that comes between God's gracious 
countenance and it. 

Besides, if we look down to inferior causes, the 
soul is oft cast down by Satan, who is all for cast- 
ing down, and for disquieting. For being a cursed 
spirit, cast and tumbled down himself from heaven, 
where he is never to come again, he is hereupon full 


of disquiet, carrying a hell about himself, whereupon 
all that he labours for is to cast down and disquiet 
others, that they may be (as much as he can procure) 
in the sam.e cursed condition with himself. He was 
not ashamed to set upon Christ himself with this temp- 
tation of casting down, and thinks Christ's members 
never low enough, till he can bring them as low as 

By his envy and subtilty we were driven out of 
Paradise at the first, and now he envies us the Paradise 
of a good conscience : for that is our Paradise until 
we come to Heaven ; into which no serpent shall ever 
creep to tempt us. When Satan seeth a man strongly 
and comfortably walk with God, he cannot endure 
that a creature of meaner rank by creation than him- 
self should enjoy such happiness. Herein, like (some 
peevish men which are his instruments) men too con- 
tentious, and bred up therein (as the salamander in 
the fire) who when they know the cause to be naught, 
and their adversaries to have the better title ; yet, out 
of malice, they will follow them with suits and vexa- 
tions, though they be not able to disable their oppo- 
sites' title : if their mahce have not a vent in hurting 
some way, they will burst for anger. 

It is just so with the devil when he seeth men will 
to Heaven, and that they have good title to it, then 
he follows them with all dejecting and uncomfortable 
tentations that he can : it is his continual trade and 
course to seek his rest in our disquiet, he is by beaten 
practice and profession, a tempter in this kind. 

Again, what Satan cannot do himself by immediate 
suggestions, thathe labours to work by his instruments, 
who are all for casting down of those who stand in their 
light, as those in the Psalm, who cry, Down with him, 



down with Mm, even to the ground ; a character and 
stamp of which men's dispositions we have in the verse 
before this text, Mine enemies (saith David) reproach 
me. As sweet and as compassionate a man as he 
was, to pray and put on sackcloth for them, yet he 
had enemies, and such enemies, as did not suffer their 
maHce only to boil and concoct in their own breasts, 
but out of the abundance of their hearts, they re- 
proached him in words. There is nothing the nature 
of man is more impatient of, than of reproaches ; for 
there is no man so mean, but thinks himself worthy 
of some regard, and a reproachful scorn shews an 
utter disrespect, which issues from the very superfluity 
of mahce. 

Neither went they behind his back, but were so 
impudent to say it to his face : a malicious heart and 
a slandering tongue go together, and though shame 
might have suppressed the uttering of such words, yet 
their insolent carriage spake as muchi^i David's heart : 
Psalm xxxix. 1. We may see by the language of men's 
carriage what their heart saith, and what their tongue 
would vent if they dared. 

And this their mahce was unwearied, for they said 
daily unto him, as if it had been fed with a continual 
spring : malice is an unsatiable monster, it will mi- 
nister words, as rage ministers weapons. But what 
was that they said so reproachfully? and said daily ? 
Where is now thy God I ver. 3, they upbraid him with 
his singularity, they say not now. Where is God ? but, 
Where is thy God, that thou dost boast so much on, 
as if thou hadst some special interest in Him ? Where 
we see that the scope of the devil and wicked men is 
to shake the godly 's faith and confidence in their God : 
as Satan laboured to divide betwixt Christ and his 


Father, If thou heest the Son of God, command 
that these stones be made bread, Matth. ii. 4, so he 
labours to divide betwixt Father and Son and us : 
they labour to bring God in jealousy with David, as 
if God had neglected him, bearing himself so much 
upon God. They had some colour of this, for God 
at this time had vailed himself from David, as he does 
oft from his best children, for the better discovery of 
the mahce of wicked men : and doth not Satan tip 
the tongues of the enemies of religion now, to insult 
over the church now lying a bleeding?* What be- 
comes of their reformation, of their Gospel ? Nay, 
rather what's become of your eyes, we may say unto 
them ? For God is nearest to his children when he 
seems farthest ofF. In the mount of the Lord it shall 
be seen, Gen. xxii. 14, God is with them, and in them, 
though the wicked be not aware of it ; it is all one, as 
if one should say betwixt the space of the new and old 
moon, Where is now the moon ? when as it is never 
nearer the sun than at that time. 

Where is now thy God ? 

In heaven, in earth, in me, everywhere but in the 
heart of such as ask such questions, and yet there 
they shall find him too in his time, filling their con- 
sciences with his wrath ; and then, Where is their 
God ? where are their great friends, their riches, their 
honours, which they set up as a god ? what can they 
avail them now ? 

But how was David affected with these reproaches ? 
their words were as swords, as with a sword in my 
bones, &c. ver. 10, they spake daggers to him, they 

* This was preached in the beginning of the troubles of the 

12 THE soul's conflict. 

cut him to the quick when they touched him in his 
God, as if he had neglected his servants, when as the 
devil himself regards those who serve his turn ; touch 
a true godly man in his religion, and you touch his 
life and his best freehold, he lives more in his God 
than in himself; so that we may see here, there is a 
murder of the tongue, a wounding tongue, as well as 
a healing tongue : men think themselves freed from 
murder, if they kill none, or if they shed no blood, 
-whereas they cut others to the heart with bitter words. 
It is good to extend the commandment to awake the 
conscience the more, and breed humility, when men 
see there is a murdering of the tongue. We see 
David therefore upon this reproach to be presently so 
moved, as to fall out with himself for it, Why art 
thou so cast down and disquieted, my soul ? This 
bitter taunt ran so much in his mind, that he expresseth 
it twice in this Psalm ; he was sensible that they 
struck at God through his sides ; what they spake in 
scorn and lightly, he took heavily. And indeed, 
when religion suffers, if there be any heavenly fire in 
the heart, it will rather break out, than not discover 
itself at all. We see by daily experience, that there 
is a special force in words uttered from a subtle head, 
a false heart and a smooth tongue, to weaken the 
hearts of professors, by bringing an evil report upon 
the strict profession of religion : as the cunning and 
false spies did upon the good land, Judg. i. 24, as if 
it were not only in vain, but dangerous to appear for 
Christ in evil times. If the example of such as have 
faint spirits will discourage in an army, (as we see in 
Gideon's history. Judges vii.)then what will speech in- 
forced both by example and with some shew of rea- 
son do ? 


To let others pass, we need not go further than 
ourselves, for to find causes of discouragement, there 
is a seminary of them within us. Our flesh, an enemy 
so much the worse, by how much the nearer, will be 
ready to upbraid us within us. Where is now thy God? 
why shouldst thou stand out in a profession that finds 
no better entertainment? 


Of Discouragements from within, 

BUT to come to some particular causes within us. 
There is cause oft in the body of those in 
whom a melancholy temper prevaileth, darkness 
makes men fearful : melancholy persons are in a 
perpetual darkness, all things seem black and dark 
unto them, their spirits as it were dyed black. Now 
to him that is in darkness, all things seem black and 
dark, the sweetest comforts are not lightsome enough 
unto those that are deep in melancholy. It is, with- 
out great watchfulness, Satan's bath ; which he 
abuseth as his own weapon to hurt the soul, which 
by reason of its sympathy with the body is subject to 
be misled : as we see where there is a suffusion of the 
eye by reason of distemper of humours, or where things 
are presented through a glass to the eye ; things seem 
to be of the same colour : so, whatsoever is presented 
to a melancholy person, comes in a dark way to the 
soul. From whence it is, that their fancy being cor^ 
rupted, they judge amiss, even of outward things, as 
that they are sick of such and such a disease, or subject 
to such and such a danger, when it is nothing so ; 
how fit are they then to judge of things removed from 
sense, as of their spiritual estate in Christ? 

14 THE soul's conflict. 

To come to causes more near the soul itself, as 
when there is want of that which should be in it, as 
of knowledge in the understanding y &c. Ignorance 
(being darkness) is full of false fears. In the night 
time men think every bush a thief; our forefathers in 
time of ignorance were frighted with every thing ; 
therefore it is the policy of Popish tyrants, taught them 
from the prince of darkness, to keep the people in 
darkness, that so they might make them fearful, and 
then abuse that fearfulness to superstition ; that they 
might the better rule in their consciences for their 
own ends : and that so having intangled them with 
false fears, they might heal them again with false cures. 

Again, though the soul be not ignorant, yet if it be 
forgetfuland mindless, if, as Heb, xii. the Apostle saith, 
YoiL have forgot the consolation that speaks unto 
you, &c. We have no more present actual comfort, 
than we have remembrance : help a godly man's me- 
mory, and help his comfort ; like unto charcoal which 
having once been kindled, is the more easy to take 
fire. He that hath formerly known things, takes 
ready acquaintance of them again, as old friends : 
things are not strange to him. 

And further, want of setting due price upon com- 
forts ; as the Israelites were taxed for setting nothing 
by the pleasant land. It is a great fault, when (as 
they said to Job) the consolation of the Almighty 
seem light, and small unto us. Job xv. 11, unless we 
have some outward comfort which we linger after. 

Add unto this, a childish kind of peevishness : 
when they have not what they would have, like chil- 
dren, they throw away all ; which though it be very 
offensive to God's Spirit, yet it seizeth often upon 
men otherwise gracious. Abraham himself, wanting 


children, Gen, xvi. undervalued all other blessings. 
Jonas, because he was crossed of his gourd, was 
weary of his hfe. The like may be said of Elias, fly- 
ing from Jezebel. This peevishness is increased by 
a too much flattering of their grief, so far as to jus- 
tify it ; like Jonas, / do well to be angry even unto 
death, Jonah iv. 9, he would stand to it. Some 
with Rachel are so peremptory, that they will not be 
comforted, Jer. xxxi. 15, as if they were in love with 
their grievances. Wilful men are most vexed in their 
crosses : it is not for those to be wilful that have not 
a great measure of wisdom to guide their wills ; for 
God delights to have his will of those that are wed- 
ded to their own wills : as in Pharaoh. No men 
more subject to discontentments than those who would 
have all things after their own way. 

Again, one main ground is, false reasoning, and 
error in our discourse, as that we have no grace when 
we feel none : feeling is not always a fit rule to judge 
our states by ; that God hath rejected us, because 
we are crossed in outward things, when as this issues 
from God's wisdom and love. How many imagine 
theiv failings to he fallings, and their fallings to be 
fallings away ? Infirmities to be presumptions : 
every sin against conscience, to be the sin against the 
Holy Ghost ? unto which misapprehensions, weak 
and dark spirits are subject. And Satan, as a cun- 
ning rhetorician, here inlargeth the fancy, to appre- 
hend things bigger than they are. Satan abuseth 
confident spirits another contrary way ; to apprehend 
great sins as little, and little as none. Some also 
think that they have no grace, because they have not 
so much as grown Christians : whereas, there be se- 
veral ages in Christ. Some again are so desirous 


and inlarged after what they have not, that they 
mind not what they have. Men may be rich, though 
they have no milHons, and be not emperors. 

Likewise, some are much troubled, because they 
proceed by a false method and order in judging of 
their estates. They will begin with election, which 
is the highest step of the ladder ; whereas they should 
begin from a work of grace wrought within their hearts, 
from God's calling them by his Spirit, and their answer 
to his call, and so raise themselves upwards to know 
their election by their answer to God's calHng. Give 
all diligence, saith Peter, to make your calling and 
election sure, 2 Pet. i : your election by your calling, 
God descends down unto us from election to calling : 
and so to sanctification : we must ascend to him be- 
ginning where he ends. Otherwise it is as great folly 
as in removing of a pile of wood, to begin at the lowest 
first, and so, besides the needless trouble, to be in dan- 
ger to have the rest to fall upon our heads. Which be- 
sides ignorance argues pride, appearing in this, that 
they would bring God to their conceits, and be at an 
end of their work before they begin. 

This great secret of God's eternal love to us in Christ, 
is hidden in his breast, and doth not appear to us, 
until in the use of means God by his Spirit discovereth 
the same to us ; the Spirit letteth into the soul so 
much Hfe and sense of God's love in particular to us, 
as draweth the soul to Christ, from whom it draweth 
so much virtue as changeth the frame of it, and quick- 
eneth it to duty, which duties are not grounds of our 
state in grace, but issues, springing from a good state 
before, and thus far they help us, in judging of our 
condition, that though they be not to be rested in, yet 
as streams they lead us to the spring-head of grace 
from whence they arise. 


And of signs, some be more apt to deceive us, as 
being not so certain, as delight and joy in hearing 
the word, Matt. xiii. 20, as appeareth in the third 
ground : some are more constant and certain, as love 
to those that are truly good, and to all such, and be- 
cause they are such, <&:c. these as they are wrought 
by the Spirit, so the same Spirit giveth evidence to 
the soul of the truth of them, and leadeth us to faith 
from whence they come, and faith leads us to the 
discovery of God's love made known to us in hearing 
the word opened. The same Spirit openeth the truth 
to us, and our understandings to conceive of it, and 
our hearts to close with it by faith, not only as a truth, 
but as a truth belonging to us. 

Now this faith is manifested, either by itself reflect- 
ing upon itself the hght of faith, discovering both it- 
self and other things, or by the cause of it, or by the 
effect, or by all. Faith is oft more known to us in 
the fruit of it, than in itself; as in plants, the fruits 
are more apparent than the sap and root. But the 
most settled knowledge is from the cause, as when I 
know I believe, because in hearing God's gracious 
promises opened and offered unto me, the Spirit of 
God carrieth my soul to cleave to them as mine own 
portion. Yet the most familiar way of knowledge of 
our estates is from the effects to gather the cause, the 
cause being oftentimes more remote and spiritual, the 
effects more obvious and visible. All the vigour and 
beauty in nature which we see, comes from a secret 
influence from the heavens which we see not: in a 
clear morning we may see the beams of the sun shin- 
ing upon the top of hills and houses before we can 
see the sun itself. 

Things in the working of them, do issue from the 

18 THE soul's conflict. 

cause, by whose force they had their being ; but our 
knowing of things ariseth from the effect, where the 
cause endeth ; we know God must love us before we 
can love him, and yet we oft Jirst know that we love 
him, 1 John, iv. 19 ; the love of God is the cause why 
we love our brother, and yet we know we love our 
brother whom we see more clearly, than God whom 
we do not see, ver. 20. 

It is a spiritual peevishness that keeps men in a 
perplexed condition, that they neglect these helps 
to judge of their estates by, whereas God takes hberty 
to help us sometime to a discovery of our estate by 
the effects, sometimes by the cause, &c. And it is a 
sin to set hght by any work of the Spirit, and the 
comfort we might have by it, and therefore we may 
well add this as one cause of disquietness in many, 
that they grieve the Spirit, by quarrelling against 
themselves, and the work of the Spirit in them. 

Another cause of disquiet is, that men by a natural 
kind of Popery seek for their comfort too much in sane- 
tification, neglecting justification, relying too much 
upon their own performances ; Saint Paul was of 
another mind, accounting all but dung and dross, 
compared to the righteousness of Christ. This is 
that garment, wherewith being decked we please our 
husband, and wherein we get the blessing. Tliis 
giveth satisfaction to the conscience, as satisfying 
God himself, being performed by God the Son, and 
approved therefore by God the Father : Hereupon 
the soul is quieted, and faith holdeth out this as a 
shield against the displeasure of God and temptations 
of Satan : Why did the apostles in their prefaces 
join grace and peace together, but that we should 
seek for our peace in the free grace and favour of God 
in Christ ? 


No wonder why Papists maintain doubting, who 
hold salvation by works ; because Satan joining to- 
gether with our consciences, will always find some 
flaw even in our best performances ; hereupon the 
doubting and misgiving soul comes to make this ab- 
surd demand, as Who shall ascend to Heaven ? Psal. 
xxiv. 3, which is all one as to fetch Christ from Hea- 
ven, and so bring him down to suffer on the cross 
ag-ain. Whereas if we believe in Christ, we are as 
sure to come to Heaven as Christ is there : Christ 
ascending and descending with all that he hath done 
is ours. So that neither heighth nor depth can sepa 
rate us from God's love in Christ, Rom. viii. 39. 

But we must remember, though the main pillar of 
our comfort be in the free forgiveness of our sins ; 
yet if there be a neglect in growing in holiness, the 
soul will never be soundly quiet, because it will be 
prone to question the truth of justification, and it is 
as proper for sin to raise doubts and fears in the con- 
science, as for rotten flesh and wood to breed worms. 
And therefore we may well join this as a cause of 
disquietness, the neglect of keeping a clear con- 
science. Sin, like Achan, or Jonas in the ship, is 
that which causeth storms within and without ; where 
there is not a pure conscience, there is not a pacified 
conscience, and therefore though some thinking to 
save themselves whole in justification, neglect the 
cleansing of their natures, and ordering of their lives : 
yet in time of temptation, they will find it more trou- 
blesome than they think. For a conscience guilty 
of many neglects, and of allowing itself in any sin, 
to lay claim to God's mercy, is to do as we see 
mountebanks sometimes do, who wound their flesh 
to try conclusions upon their own bodies, how sove- 

20 THE soul's conflict. 

reign the salve is ; yet oftentimes they come to feel 
the smart of their presumption, by long and desperate 
wounds. So God will let us see what it is to make 
wounds to try the preciousness of his balm : such 
may go mourning to their graves. And though, per- 
haps, with much wresthng with God, they may get 
assurance of the pardon of their sins, yet their con- 
science will be still trembling, like as David's, though 
Nathan had pronounced unto him the forgiveness of 
his sin. Psalm li., till God at length speaks further 
peace, even as the water of the sea, after a storm, is 
not presently still, but moves and trembles a good 
while after the storm is over. A Christian is a new 
creature, and walketh by rule, and so far as he 
walketh according to his rule peace is upon him, Gal. 
vi. 16. Loose walkers, that regard not their way, 
must think to meet with sorrows instead of peace. 
Watchfulness is the preserver of peace. It is a deep 
spiritual judgment to find peace in an ill way. 

Some, again, reap the fruit of their ignorance of 
Christian liberty, hyunnecessdiYy scruples and doubts. 
It is both unthankfulness to God, and wrong to our- 
selves, to be ignorant of the extent of Christian liberty, 
it makes melody to Satan, to see Christians troubled 
with that they neither should or need. Yet there is 
danger in stretching Christian liberty beyond the 
bounds. For a man may condemn himself in that he 
approves, as in not walking circumspectly in regard 
of circumstances, and so breed his own disquiet, and 
give scandal to others. 

Sometimes also, God suffers men to be disquieted 
for want of employment, who in shunning labour, 
procure trouble to themselves ; and by not doing that 
which is needful, they are troubled with that which 


is unnecessary. An unemployed life is a burden to 
itself, God is a pure act, always working, always 
doing ; and the nearer our soul comes to God, the 
more it is an action, and the freer from disquiet. 
Men experimentally feel that comfort in doing that 
which belongs unto them, which before they longed 
for, and went without ; a heart not exercised in some 
honest labour, works trouble out of itself. 

Again, omission of duties and offices of love often 
troubles the peace of good people; for even in the time 
of death, when they look for peace and desire it most, 
then looking back upon their former failings, and 
seeing opportunity of doing good wanting to their 
desire, (the parties perhaps being deceased to whom 
they owed more respect) are hereupon much disquieted, 
and so much the more, because they see now hope 
of the like advantages cut off. 

A Christian life is full of duties, and the peace of 
it is not maintained without much fruitfulness and 
looking about us : debt is a disquieting thing to an 
honest mind, and duty is debt. Hereupon the apostle 
layeth the charge, that we should owe nothing to any 
man but love, Rom. xiii. 8. 

Again, one special cause of too much disquiet is, 
want of firm resolution in good things. The soul 
cannot but be disquieted when it knows not what to 
cleave unto, like a ship tossed with contrary winds : 
halting is a deformed and troublesome gesture; so 
halting in religion is not only troublesome to others, 
and odious, but also disquiets ourselves. If God be 
Gody cleave to him,, 1 Kings, xviii. 21. If the duties 
of rehgion be such as will bring peace of conscience 
at the length, be religious to purpose, practise them in 
the particular passages of life. We should labour to 

22 THE soul's conflict. 

have a clear judgment, and from thence a resolved 
purpose; a wavering minded man is inconstant in 
all his ways, James, i. 6. God will not speak peace 
to a staggering^ spirit that hath always its religion, 
and its way, to choose. Uncertain men are always 
unquiet men : and giving too much way to passion 
maketh men in particular consultations unsettled. 
This is the reason why in particular cases, when the 
matter concerns ourselves, we cannot judge so clearly 
as in general truths, because Satan raiseth a mist be- 
tween us and the matter in question. 

Two Positive Causes 

May be, 1. When men lay up their comfort too 
much on outward things, which being subject to much 
inconstancy and change, breed disquiet. Vexation 
always follows vanity, when vanity is not apprehend- 
ed to be where it is. In that measure we are cast 
down in the disappointing of our hopes, as we were 
too much lifted up in expectation of good from them. 
Whence proceed these complaints : Such a friend hath 
failed me ; I never thought to have fallen into this 
condition ; I had settled my joy in this child, in this 
friend, &c. but this is to build our comfort upon things 
that have no firm foundation, to build castles in the 
air (as we use to say). Therefore it is a good desire 
of the wise man Agur, to desire God, to remove from 
fis vanity and lies, Prov. xxx. ; that is, a vain and false 
apprehension pitching upon things that are vain and 
lying, promising a contentment to ourselves from the 
creature, which it cannot yield ; confidence in vain 
things makes a vain heart, the heart becoming of the 
nature of the thing it relies on : we may say of all 
earthly things as the Prophet speaketh, Here is not 
our rest, Mic. ii. 10. 


It is no wonder, therefore, that worldly men are oft 
cast down and disquieted, when they walk in a vain 
shadow, Psal. xxxix. as hkewise that men given much 
to recreations should be subject to passionate distem- 
per, because here things fall out otherwise than they 
looked for : recreations being about matters that are 
variable, which especially falls out in games of hazard, 
wherein they oft spare not Divine Providence itself, 
but break out into blasphemy. 

Likewise men that grasp more businesses than they 
can discharge, must needs bear both the blame and 
the grief of losing or marring many businesses. It 
being almost impossible to do many things so well as 
to give content to conscience : hence it is that covet- 
ous and busy men trouble both their hearts and their 
houses ; though some men from a largeness of parts, 
and a special dexterity in affairs, may turn overmuch ; 
yet the most capacious heart hath its measure, and 
when the cup is full, a little drop may cause the rest 
to spill. There is a spiritual surfeit, when the soul is 
overcharged with business; it is fit the soul should 
have its meet burthen and no more. 

As likewise, those that depend too much upon the 
opinions of other men : A very little matter will refresh, 
and then again discourage a mind that rests too much 
upon the hking of others. Men that seek themselves 
disquieted abroad, find themselves too much at home ; 
even good men many times are too much troubled 
with the unjust censures of other men, specially in the 
day of their trouble : It was Job's case; and it is a 
heavy thing to have affliction added to affliction : It 
was Hannah's case, who being troubled'in spirit, was 
censured by EU, for distemper in brain, 1. Sam. i. 14 ; 
but for vain men who live more to reputation than to 

24 THE soul's conflict. 

conscience, it cannot be that they should long enjoy 
settled quiet, because those in whose good opinion 
they desire to dwell, are ready often to take up con- 
trary conceits upon slender grounds. 

It is also a ground of overmuch trouble, when we 
look too much and too long upon the ill in ourselves 
and abroad ; we may fix our eyes too long even upon 
sin itself, considering that we have not only a remedy 
against the hurt by sin, but a commandment to rejoice 
always in the Lord, Phihp. iv. 4. Much more may we 
err in poring too much upon our afflictions ; wherein 
we may find always in ourselves upon search a cause 
to justify God, and always something left to comfort 
us : though we naturally mind more one cross than 
a hundred favours, dwelling over long upon the sore. 

So likewise, our minds may be too much taken up 
in consideration of the miseries of the times at home 
and abroad, as if Christ did not rule in the midst of 
his enemies, and would not help all in due time ; or 
as if the condition of the church in this world were 
not for the most part in an afflicted and conflicted 
condition. Indeed there is a perfect rest both for the 
souls and bodies of God's people, but that is not in 
this world, but is kept for hereafter, here we are in a 
sea, where what can we look for, but storms ? 

To insist upon no more, one cause is, that we do 
usurp upon God, and take his office upon us, by 
troubling ourselves in forecasting the event of things, 
whereas our work is only to do our work and be 
quiet, as children when they please their parents take 
no further thought ; our trouble is the fruit of our folly 
in this kind. 

That which we should observe from all that hath 
been said is, that we be not over hasty in censuring 


others, when we see their spirits out of temper, for we 
see how many things there are that work strongly 
upon the weak nature of man. We may sin more by 
harsh censure, than they by overmuch distemper : 
as in Job's case it was a matter rather of just grief 
and pity, than great wonder or heavy censure. 

And, for ourselves : if our estate be calm for the 
present, yet we should labour to prepare our hearts, 
not only for an alteration of estate, but of spirit, un- 
less we be marvellous careful beforehand, that our 
spirits fall not down with our condition. And if it 
befalls us to find it otherwise with our souls than at 
other times, we should so far labour to bear it, as 
that we do not judge it our own case alone, when we 
see here David thus to complain of himself, w Ay art 
thou cast down, my soul ? &c. 

CHAP. IV. »- o^^^^^ 

Of casting down ourselves, and specially by sorroiiit^QY^ * 
Evils thereof, 

nr^O return again to the words, why art thou cast 
JL down, O my soul? &c, or, why dost thou cast 
down thyself? or, art cast down by thyself? Whence 
we may further observe ; that we are prone to cast 
down ourselves, we are accessory to our own trouble, 
and weave the web of our own sorrow, and hamper 
ourselves in the cords of our own twining. God nei- 
ther loves nor wills that we should be too much cast 
down. We see our Saviour Christ how careful he 
was that his disciples should not be troubled, and 
therefore he labours to prevent that trouble which 
might arise by his suffering and departure from them, 
by a heavenly sermon ; let not your hearts be trou- 


bled, &c. John xiv. 1. He was troubled himself, that 
we should not be troubled : the ground therefore of 
our disquiet is chiefly from ourselves, though Satan 
will have a hand in it. We see many, like sullen 
birds in a cage, beat themselves to death. This cast- 
ing down of ourselves is not from humility, but from 
pride ; we must have our will, or God shall not have 
a good look from us, but as pettish and peevish chil- 
dren, we hang our heads in our bosom, because our 
wills are crossed. 

Therefore in all our troubles we should look first 
home to our own hearts, and stop the storm there ; 
for we may thank our own selves, not only for our 
troubles, but likewise for overmuch troubling our- 
selves in trouble. It was not the troubled condition 
that so disquieted David's soul, for if he had had a 
quiet mind, it would not have troubled him. But 
David yielded to the discouragements of the flesh, 
and the flesh (so far as it is unsubdued) is like the sea 
that is always casting mire and dirt of doubts, dis- 
couragements, and murmurings in the soul : let us 
therefore lay the blame where it is to be laid. 

Again, we see, it is the nature of sorrow to cast 
down, as of joy to lift up. Grief is like lead to the 
soul, heavy and cold ; it sinks downwards, and car- 
ries the soul with it. The poor publican, to shew that 
his soul was cast down under the sight of his sins, 
hung down his head, Luke xviii. 13; the position of 
his body was suitable to the disposition of his mind, 
his heart and head were cast down alike. And it is 
Satan's practice to go over the hedge where it is low- 
est : he adds more weights to the soul, by his tenta- 
tions and vexations. His sin cast him out of Heaven, 
and by his temptations, he cast us out of our Para- 


dise, and ever since, he labours to cast us deeper into 
sin, wherein his scope is, to cast us either into too 
much trouble for sin, or presumption in sin, which is 
but a lifting up, to cast us down into deep despair at 
length, and so at last, if God's mercy stop not his 
mahce, he will cast us as low as himself, even into 
hell itself. 

Tlie ground hereof is because as the joy of the 
Lord doth strengthen, so doth sorrow weaken the 
sauL How doth it weaken ? 

1. By weakening the execution of the functions 
thereof, because it drinketh up the spirits, which are 
the instmments of the soul. 

2. Because it contracteth, and draweth the soul into 
itself from communion of that comfort it might have 
with God or man. And then the soul being left alone, 
ifitfalleth, hath none to raise it up, Eccl. iv. 10. 

Therefore, if we will prevent casting down, let us 
jjr event grief the cause of it, and sin the cause of that. 
Experience proves that true which the wise man says, 
Heaviness in the heart of a man makes it stoop, but 
a good word 7nakes it better, Prov. xii. 25. It bows 
down the soul, and therefore our blessed Saviour in- 
viteth such unto him; Come unto me^ ye who are 
heavy laden with the burden of your sins, Matt. xi. 
The body bends under a heavy burden, so likewise 
the soul hath its burden, Why art thou cast down, 
my soul? why so disquieted? &c. 

Whence we see, 1. that casting down breeds dis- 
quieting : because it springs from pride, which is a 
turbulent passion, when as men cannot stoop to that 
condition which God would have them in ; this pro- 
ceeds from discontentment, and that from pride. As 
we see, a vapour inclosed in a cloud causeth a terrible 

28 THE soul's CO^^FLICT. 

noise of thunder, whilst it is pent up there, and seeketh 
a vent ; so all the noise within proceeds from a discon- 
tented swelling vapour. It is air inclosed in the bowels 
of the earth which shakes it, which all the four winds 
cannot do. 

No creature under heaven so low cast down as 
Satan, none more lifted up in pride, none so full of 
discord; the impurest spirits are the most disquiet 
and stormy spirits, troublesome to themselves and 
others ; for when the soul leaves God once, and looks 
downwards, what is there to stay it from disquiet? 
Remove the needle from the pole star, and it is always 
stirring and trembling, never quiet till it be right 
again. So, displace the soul by taking it from God, 
and it will never be quiet. The devil cast out of 
Heaven and out of the Church, keeps ado ; so do un- 
ruly spirits led by him. 

Noiv I come to the remedies, 

1. By expostulation with himself, 

2. By laying a charge upon himself: 
( Trust in God) 

It is supposed here, that there is no reason, which 
the wisdom from above allows to be a reason, why 
men should be discouraged although the wisdom from 
beneath, which takes part with our corruption, will 
seldom want a plea. Nay, there is not only no rea- 
son for it, but there are strong reasons against it, there 
being a world of evil in it. 

For, 1. It indisposes a man to all good duties, it 
makes him like an instrument out of tune, and Hke a 
body out of joint, that moveth both uncomely and pain- 
fully. It unfits to duties to God, who loves a cheerful 
giver, and especially a thanksgiver. Whereupon the 
apostle joins them both together, In all things be thank- 


ful, and rejoice evermore^ 1 Thess. v. In our commu- 
nion with God in the sacraments, joy is a chief ingredi- 
ent. So in duties to men, if the spirit be dejected, they 
are unwelcome, and lose the greatest part of their life 
and grace ; a cheerful and a free spirit in duty is that 
which is most accepted in duty. We observe not so 
much what, as from what affection a thing is done. 

2. It is a great wrong to God himself, and it makes 
us conceive black thoughts of him, as if He were an 
enemy. What an injury is it to a gracious father, 
that such whom he hath followed with many gracious 
evidences of his favour and love, should be in so ill a 
frame, as once to call it into question ? 

3. So, it makes a man forgetful of all former bless- 
ings, and stops the influence of God's grace, for the 
time present, and for that to come. 

4. So again, for receiving of good : It makes us 
unfit to receive mercies ; a quiet soul is the seat of 
wisdom. Therefore, meekness is required for the re- 
ceiving of that engrafted word which is able to save 
our souls, James, i. 21. Till the spirit of God meekens 
the soul, say what you will, it minds nothing, the soul 
is not empty and quiet enough to receive the seed of 
the Word. It is ill sowing in a storm ; so a stormy 
spirit will not suffer the Word to take place. Men 
are deceived when they think a dejected spirit to be 
an humble spirit. Indeed it is so when we are cast 
down in the sense of our own unworthiness, and then 
as much raised up in the confidence of God's mercy. 
But when we cast ourselves down sullenly, and neglect 
our comforts, or undervalue them, it proceeds from 
pride, for it controls, as much as in us lies, the wisdom 
and justice of God, when we think with ourselves, why 
should it be so with us ? as if we were wiser to dispose 

30 THE soul's CONFLICT. 

of ourselves than God is. It disposeth us for enter- 
taining any temptation. Satan hath never more ad- 
vantage than upon discontent. 

5. Besides, it keeps off beginners from coming in, 
and entering into the vi^ays of God, bringing an ill 
report upon rehgion, causing men to charge it falsely 
for an uncomfortable way, when as men never feel 
what true comfort meaneth till they give up themselves 
to God. And it damps likewise the spirits of those 
that walk the same way with us, when as we should 
(as good travellers) cheer up one another both by word 
and example. In such a case, the wheels of the soul 
are taken off, or else (as it were) want oil, whereby the 
soul passeth on very heavily, and no good action comes 
off from it as it should, which breeds not only uncom- 
fortableness but unsettledness in good courses. For 
a man will never go on comfortably and constantly 
in that which he heavily undertakes. That is the rea- 
son why uncheerful spirits seldom hold out as they 
should. St. Peter knew this well, and therefore he 
willeth that there should be quietness and peace be- 
twixt husband and wife, that their prayers be not 
hindered, 1 Pet. iii. ; insinuating that their prayers are 
hindered by family breaches. For by that means, those 
two, that should be one flesh and spirit, are divided, 
and so made two, and when they should mind duty, 
their mind is taken up with wrongs done by the one 
to the other. 

There is nothing more required for the performing 
of holy duties than uniting of spirits ; and therefore 
God would not have the sacrifice brought to the altar, 
before reconciliation with our brother, Matt, v. 24. 
He esteems peace so highly, that he will have his own 
service stay for it. We see when Moses came to de- 

THE soul's conflict. 31 

liver the Israelites out of bondage, their mind was so 
taken up with their grief, that there was nobody within 
to give Moses an answer, their souls went ahogether 
after their ill usage. 

Therefore we should all endeavour and labour for 
a calmed spirit, that we may the better serve God in 
praying to him, and praising of him ; and serve one 
another in love, that we may be fitted to do and re- 
ceive good : that we may make our passage to Hea- 
ven more easy and cheerful, without drooping and 
hanging the wing. So much as we are quiet and 
cheerful upon good grounds, so much we hve, and 
are as it were in Heaven. So much as we yield to 
discouragement, we lose so much of our life and hap- 
piness, cheerfulness being, as it were, that life of our 
lives, and the spirit of our spirits, by which they are 
more enlarged to receive happiness and to express it. 


Remedies of casting down : to cite the Soul, and 
press it to give an Account, 

BUT to come to some helps : 
First, in that he expostulates with himself, we 
may observe, that One waij to raise a dejected soul 
is, to cite it before itself, and as it ivere to reason 
the case, God hath set up a court in man's heart, 
wherein the conscience hath the office, both of infor- 
mer, accuser, witness, dind judge ; and if matters were 
well carried within ourselves, this prejudging would 
be a prevention of future judging. It is a great 
mercy of God, that the credit and comfort of man 
are so provided for, that he may take up matters in 
himself, and so prevent public disgrace. But if there 

32 THE soul's conflict. 

be not a fair dispatch and transaction in this inferior 
court within us, there will be a review in a higher 
court. Thereby by slubbering over our matters, we put 
God and ourselves to more trouble than needs. For a 
judgment must pass first or last, either within us or 
without us, upon all unwarrantable distempers. We 
must not only be ready to give an account of our 
faith, upon what grounds we believe ; but of all our 
actions, upon what grounds we do what we do ; and 
of OUT passions, upon what ground we are passionate : 
as in a well governed state, uproar and sedition is never 
stirred, but account must be given. Now in a mutiny, 
the presence and speech of a venerable man compose 
the minds of the disordered multitude ; so likewise in 
a mutiny of the spirit, the authority that God hath 
put into reason, as a beam of himself, commands si- 
lence, and puts all in order again. 

And there is good reason for it, for man is an un- 
derstanding creature, and hath a rule given him to 
live by, and therefore is to be countable of every 
thought, word, action, passion. Therefore the first 
way to quiet the soul, is, to ask a reason of the tu- 
mult raised, and then many of our distempers for 
shame will not appear, because, though they rage in 
silent darkness, yet they can say nothing for them- 
selves, being summoned before strength of judgment 
and reason. Which is the reason why passionate 
men are loath that any court should be kept within 
them ; but labour to stop judgment all they can. If 
men would but give themselves leave to consider bet- 
ter of it, they would never yield to such unreasonable 
motions of the soul : if they could but gain so much of 
their unruly passions, as to reason the matter within 
themselves, to hear what their consciences can tell 

THE soul's conflict. 33 

them in secret, there would not be such offensive 
breakings out. And therefore, if we be ashamed to 
hear others upbraiding us, let us for shame hear our- 
selves : and if no reason can be given, what an unrea- 
sonable thing is it for a man endowed with reason to 
contrary his own principles ? and to be carried as a 
beast without reason ; or if there be any reason to be 
given, then this is the way to scan it, see whether it 
will hold water or not. We shall find some reasons, 
if they may be so called, to be so corrupt and foul, 
that (if the judgment be not corrupted by them) they 
dare not be brought to light, but always appear under 
some colour and pretext; for sin, hke the devil, is 
afraid to appear in its own likeness, and men seek 
out fair glosses for foul intentions. The hidden secret 
reason is one, the open is another : the heart being 
corrupt sets the wit awork, to satisfy corrupt will ; 
such kind of men are afraid of their own consciences, 
as Ahab of Michaiah, 1 Kin, xxii. because they fear it 
would deal truly with them : and therefore they take 
either present order for their consciences, or else (as 
Felix put off Paul, Acts xxiv. 25) they adjourn the 
court for another time. Such men are strangers at 
home, afraid of nothing more than themselves, and 
therefore in a fearful condition, because they are re- 
served for the judgment of the great day, if God 
doth not before that set upon them in this world. If 
men carried away with their own lusts would give 
but a little check, and stop themselves in their post- 
ing to hell, and ask. What have I done ? What am 
I now about ? Whither will this course tend ? How 
will it end ? &c. Undoubtedly men would begin to 
be wise. Would the blasphemer give away his soul 
for nothing (for there is no engagement of profit or 



pleasure in this, as in other sins, but it issues merely 
out of irreverence, and a superfluity of profaneness ;) 
would he, I say, draw so heavy a guilt upon himself 
for nothing, if he would but make use of his reason ? 
would an old man, when he is very near his journey's 
end, make longer provision for a short way, if he 
would ask himself a reason ? But indeed covetous- 
ness is an unreasonable vice. 

If those also of the younger sort would ask of them- 
selves. Why God should not have the flower and 
marrow of their age? and why they should give their 
strength to the devil ? It might a little take them 
off from the devil's service. But sin is a work of 
darkness, and therefore shuns not only the light of 
grace, but even the light of reason. Yet sin seldom 
wants a seeming reason. Men will not go to hell with- 
out a shew of reason. But such be sophistical fal- 
lacies, not reasons ; and therefore sinners are said to 
play the sophisters with themselves : Satan could not 
deceive us, unless we deceived ourselves first, and are 
willingly deceived: wilful sinners are blind, because 
they put out the light of reason, and so think God, 
like themselves, blind too. Psalm 1 ; and therefore 
they are deservedly termed madmen and fools; for, 
did they but make use of that spark of reason, it 
would teach them to reason thus ; / cannot give an 
account of my ways to myself: what account shall 
/, or can /, give then to the Judge of all flesh ere 
it be long. 

And as it is a ground of repentance, in stopping 
our course to ask. What have I done ? So likewise 
of faith and new obedience, to ask, what shall I do 
for the time to come ? and then upon settHug, the 
soul in way of thanks will be ready to ask of itself. 


What shall I return to the Lord? &c. So that the 
soul by this dealing with itself, promoteth itself to all 
holy duties till it come to Heaven. 

The reason why we are thus backward to the keeping 
of this court in ourselves, is self-love ; we love to flatter 
our own affections, but this self-love is but self-hatred 
in the end ; as the Wiseman says, he that regards not 
this part of wisdom, hates his own soul, and shall 
eat the fruits of his own ways. 

2. As likewise it issues from an irksomeness of la- 
bour, which makes us rather wilKng to seem base and 
vile to ourselves and others, than to take pains with 
our own hearts to be better, as those that are weary 
of holding the reins give them up unto the horse neck, 
and so are driven whither the rage of the horse carrieth 
them : sparing a little trouble at first, doubles it in 
the end; as he who will not take the pains to cast up 
his books, his books will cast up him in the end. It 
is a blessed trouble that brings sound and long peace, 
1 Cor. xi. 31 : This labour saves God a labour, for there- 
fore he judgeth us, because we would not take pains 
with ourselves before. 

3. And pride also, with a desire of liberty, makes 
men think it to be a diminishing of greatness and free- 
dom either to be curbed, or to curb ourselves : We 
love to be absolute and independent; but this, as it 
brought ruin upon our nature in Adam, so it will upon 
our persons. Men, as Luther was wont to say, are 
born with a pope in their belly, they are loath to give 
an account, although it be to themselves, their wills 
are instead of a kingdom to them. 

Let us therefore, when any lawless passions begin 
to stir, deal with our souls as God did with Jonah, 
Doest thou well to be angry? Jonah, iv. to fret thus? 

^6 THE soul's CONFLICT. 

This will be a means t^^make us quiet : for, alas ! 
what weak reasons h ve we often of strong motions ; 
such a man gave me no respect, such another looked 
more kindly upon another man than upon me, &c. 
You have some of Haman's spirit, Esther, v. that for 
a little neglect would ruin a whole nation. Passion 
presents men that are innocent as guilty to us ; and 
because we will not seem to be mad without reason, 
pride commands the wit to justify anger, and so one 
passion maintains and feeds another. 

Neither is it sufficient to cite the soul before itself; 
but it must be pressed to give an accouiity as we see 
here, David doubles and trebles the expostulation ; as 
oft as any distemper did arise, so oft did he labour to 
keep it down. If passions grow too insolent, Eli*s 
mildness will do no good, 1 Sam, ii. 24. It would pre- 
vent much trouble in this kind, to subdue betimes, in 
ourselves and others, the first beginnings of any unruly 
passions and affections; which if they be not well 
tutored and disciplined at the first, prove as head- 
strong, unruly, and ill nurtured children, who, being 
not chastened in time, take such a head, that it is oft 
above the power of parents to bring them in order. 
A child set at liberty (saith Solomon) breeds shame , 
at length, to his parents, Prov. xxix. 15. Adonia's 
example shews this. The like may be said of the af- 
fections set at liberty ; it is dangerous to redeem a 
little quiet by yielding to our affections, which is never 
safely gotten but by mortification of them. 

Those that are in great place are most in danger, 
by yielding to themselves, to lose themselves ; for they 
are so taken up with the person for a time put upon 
them, that they, both in look and speech, and carriage, 
often shew that they forget both their natural condi- 

THE SOUL S conflict; 37 

tion as men, and much more their supernatural as 
Christians ; and therefore are sCarce counselable by 
others or themselves, in thoser things that concern 
their severed condition that concerneth another world. 
Whereas it were most wisdom so to think of their place 
they bear, whereby they are called ^o^Z^, Psal. Ixxxii. 
6, 7, as not to forget they must lay their person aside, 
and die like men, 2 Sam. xxiv. 4 : David himself that 
in his afflicted condition could advise with himself, 
and check himself, yet in his free and flourishing estate 
neglected the counsel of his friends. Agur was in 
jealousy of a full condition, and lest instead of saying, 
What have I done ? why am I thus cast down ? &c. 
he should say. Who is the Lord? Prov. xxx. 9. 

Meaner men in their lesser sphere often shew what 
their spirits would be, if their compass were enlarged. 

It is a great fault in breeding youth, for fear of 
taking down of their spirits, not to take down their 
pride, and get victory of their affections ; whereas a 
proud unbroken heart raiseth us more trouble often 
than all the world beside. Of all troubles, the trouble 
of a proud heart is the greatest : It was a great trouble 
to Haman to lead Mordecai's horse, Esth, vi. 1. which 
another man would not have thought so ; the mov- 
ing of a straw is troublesome to proud flesh. And 
therefore it is good to bea?- the yoke from our youth, 
Lam. iii. 27 : it is better to be taken down in youth, 
than to be broken in pieces by great crosses in age. 
First or last, self-denial and victory over ourselves is 
absolutely necessary ; otherwise faith, which is a 
grace that requireth self-denial, will never be brought 
into the soul, and bear rule there. 

But, what if pressing upon our souls will not help ? 
. Then speak to God, to Jesus Christ by prayer, 


that as he rebuked the winds and the waves, and 
went upon the sea, so he would walk upon our souls, 
and command a calm there. It is no less power to 
settle a peace in the soul, than to command the seas 
to be quiet. It is God's prerogative to rule in the 
heart, as likewise to give it up to itself, which (next 
to Hell) is the greatest judgment ; which should draw 
us to the greater reverence and fear of displeasing 
God. It was no ill wish of him, that desired God to 
free him from an ill man, himself. 


Other Observations of the same nature, 

MOREOVER we see that a godly man can cast 
a restraint upon himself , as David here stays 
himself in falling. There is a principle of grace, that 
stops the heart, and pulls in the reins again when the 
affections are loose. A carnal man, when he begins 
to be cast down, sinks lower and lower, until he sinks 
into despair, as lead sinks into the bottom of the sea. 
They sunk, they sunk, like lead in the mighty wa- 
ters, Exod. XV. 5. A carnal man sinks as a heavy body 
to the centre of the earth, and stays not, if it be not 
stopped : there is nothing in him to stay him in falling, 
as we see in Achitophel and Saul, 2 Sam, xvii. 23 : who 
(wanting a support) found no other stay, but the 
sword's point. And the greater their parts and placed 
are, the more they entangle themselves ; and no won- 
der, for they are to encounter with God and his de- 
puty, conscience, who is King of kings, and Lord of 
lords. When Cain was cast out of his father's house, 
his heart and countenance was always cast down ; 
for he had nothing in him to lift it upwards. But 


a godly man, though he may give a httle way to pas- 
sion, yet (as David) he recovers himself. Therefore 
as we would have any good evidence, that we have 
a better spirit in us than our own, greater than the 
flesh or the world, let us (in all troubles we meet 
with) gather up ourselves, that the stream of our own 
affections carry us not away too far. 

There is an art or skill of bearing troubles, if we 
eould learn it, without overmuch troubling of our- 
selves ; as in bearing of a burthen there is a way so 
to poise it, that it weigheth not over heavy : if it 
hangs all on one side, it poises the body down. The 
greater part of our troubles we pull upon ourselves, 
by not parting our care so, as to take upon us only 
the care of duty, and leave the rest to God ; and by 
minghng our passions with our crosses ; and, like a 
foolish patient, chewing the pills which we should 
swallow down. We dwell too much upon the grief, 
when we should remove the soul higher. We are 
nearest neighbours unto ourselves; when we suffer 
grief, like a canker, to eat into the soul, and like a 
fire in the bones, to consume the marrow and drink 
up the spirits, we are accessory to the wrong done 
both to our bodies and souls : we waste our own can- 
dle, and put out our light. 

We see here again, that a godly man can make a 
good use of privacy. When he is forced to be alone 
he can talk with his God and himself; one reason 
whereof is, that his heart is a treasury and storehouse 
of divine truths, whence he can speak to himself, by 
way of check, or encouragement of himself: he hath 
a spirit over his own spirit, to teach him to make use 
of that store he hath laid up in his heart, the spirit is 
never nearer him than when by way of witness to his 

40 THE soul's conflict. 

spirit he is thus comforted ; wherein the child of God 
differs from another man, who cannot endure sohta- 
riness ; because his heart is empty ; he was a stran- 
ger to God before, and God is a stranger to him now; 
so that he cannot go to God as a friend. And for 
his conscience, that is ready to speak to him, that 
which he is loath to hear : and therefore he counts 
himself a torment to himself, especially in privacy. 

We read of great princes, who after some bloody 
designs were as terrible to themselves,* as they were 
formerly to others, and therefore could never endure 
to be awaked in the night, without music, or some 
like diversion. It may be, we may be cast into such 
a condition, where we have none in the world to com- 
fort us, as in contagious sickness, when none may 
come near us, we may be in such an estate wherein 
no friend will own us. And therefore let us labour 
now to be acquainted with God and our own hearts, 
and acquaint our hearts with the comforts of the Holv 
Ghost ; then, though we have not so much as a book 
to look on, or a friend to talk with, yet we may look 
with comfort into the book of our own heart, and 
read what God hath written there by the finger of his 
spirit, all books are written to amend this one book 
of our heart and conscience : by this means we shall 
never want a divine to comfort us, a physician to cure 
us, a counsellor to direct us, a musician to cheer us, 
a controller to check us, because, by help of the word 
and spirit, we can be all these to ourselves. 

Another thing we see here, that God hath made 

every man a governor over himself. The poor man, 

that hath none to govern, yet may he be a king in 

himself. It is the natural ambition of man's heart 

* As Charles IX. after the massacre in France. 


to desire government, as we see in the bramble, Judg. 
ix ; Well then, let us make use of this disposition to 
rule ourselves. Absalom had high thoughts; O, if I 
were a king, I would do so and so ! so our hearts are 
ready to promise, If I were as such and such a man 
in such and such a place, I would do this and that. 

But how dost thou manage thine own affections ? 
how dost thou rule in thine house ? in thyself? do not 
passions get the upper hand, and keep reason under 
foot ? When we have learned to rule over our own 
spirits well, then we may be fit to rule over others. 
He that is faithful in a little, shall be set over more. 
Matt. XXV. 21. He that can govern himself, in the 
wise man's judgment, is better than he that can go- 
vern a city, Prov. xvi. 32. He that cannot, is like 
a city without a wall, where those that are in may 
go out, and the enemies without may come in at their 
pleasure. So where there is not a government set up, 
there sin breaks out, and Satan breaks in without 

See again, the excellency of the soul, that can 
reflect upon itself, and judge of whatsoever comes 
from it : a godly man's care and trouble is especially 
about his soul, as David here looks principally to that, 
because all outward troubles are for to help that; 
when God touches our bodies, our estates, or our 
friends, he aims at the soul in all. God will never 
remove his hand, till something be wrought upon the 
soul, as David's moisture ivas as the drought in sum- 
mer, Psal. xxxii. so that he roared, and carried him- 
self unseemly for so great and holy a man, till his heart 
was subdued to deal without all guile with God in 
confessing his sin ; and then God forgave him the ini- 
quity thereof, and healed his body too. In sickness, 

42 THE soul's conflict. 

or in any other trouble, it is best the divine should be 
before the physician : and that men begin where God 
begins. In great fires men look first to their jewels, 
and then to their lumber ; so our soul is our best 
jewel : a carnal worldly man is called, and well called, 
a fleshly man, because his very soul is flesh, and there 
is nothing but the world in him. And, therefore, 
when all is not well within, he cries out, My body is 
troubled, my state is broken, my friends fail me, &c. 
but all this while, there is no care for the poor soul 
to settle a peace in that. 

The possession of the soul is the richest possession, 
no jewel so precious ; the account for our own souls, 
and the souls of others, is the greatest account, and 
therefore the care of souls should be the greatest care : 
What an indignity is it that we should forget such 
souls to satisfy our lusts? to have our wills? to be 
vexed with any ; who by their judgment, example, 
or authority stop as we suppose our courses ? Is it 
not the greatest plot of the world ; first to have their 
lusts satisfied : secondly, to remove either by fraud 
or violence whatsoever standeth in their way : and 
thirdly, to put colours and pretences upon this to de- 
lude the world and themselves, employing all their 
carnal wit and worldly strength for their carnal aims, 
and fighting for that which fights against their own 
souls ? For what will be the issue of this but certain 
destruction ? 

Of this mind are not only the dregs of people, but 
many of the more refined sort, who desire to be emi- 
nent in the world ; and to have their own desires 
herein, give up the liberty of their own judgments 
and consciences, to the desires and lusts of others ; 
to be above others they will be beneath themselveSy 


having those men's persons in admiration for hope of 
advantage, whom otherwise they despise, and so sub- 
stituting in their spirits, man in the place of God, 
lose heaven for earth, and bury that divine spark, 
their souls, capable of the divine nature, and fitter to 
be a sanctuary and temple for God to dwell in, than 
by closing with baser things to become base itself. 
We need not wonder that others seem base to car- 
nal men, who are base both in and to themselves. It 
is no wonder they should be cruel to the souls of 
others, who are cruel to their own souls ; that they 
should neglect and starve others, that give away their 
own souls in a manner for nothing. Alas ! upon 
what poor terms do they hazard that, the nature and 
worth whereof is beyond man's reach to comprehend ! 
Many are so careless in this kind, that if they were 
thoroughly persuaded that they had souls that should 
live for ever, either in bliss or torment, we might the 
more easily work upon them. But as they live by 
sense, as beasts, so they have no more thoughts of 
future times than beasts, except at such times as con- 
science is awaked by some sudden judgment, whereby 
God's wrath is revealed from Heaven against them. 
But happy were it for them, if they might dife like 
beasts, whose misery dies with them. 

To such an estate hath sin brought the soul, that 
it willingly drowneth itself in the senses, and becomes 
in some sort incarnate with the flesh. 

We should therefore set ourselves to have most 
care of that, which God cares most for : which he 
breathed into us at first, set his own image upon, gave 
so great a price for, and values above all the world 
besides. Shall all our study be to satisfy the desires 
of the flesh, and neglect this ? 

44 THE soul's conflict. 

Is it not a vanity to prefer the casket before the 
jewel, the shell before the pearl, the gilded potsherd 
before the treasure ? and is it not much more vanity, 
to prefer the outward condition before the inward ? 
The soul is that which Satan and his hath most spite 
at, for in troubling our bodies or estates, he aims 
at the vexation of our souls. As in Job i. his aim 
was to abuse that power God had given him over his 
children, body, and goods, to make him out of a dis- 
quieted spirit blaspheme God. It is an ill method to 
begin our care in other things, and neglect the soul, 
as Achitophel, who set his house in order, when he 
should have set his soul in order first, 2 Sam, xvii. 23. 
Wisdom begins at the right end. If all be well at home, 
it comforts a man, though he meets with troubles 
abroad. Oh, saith he, I shall have rest at home, I 
have a loving wife and dutiful children ; so whatso- 
ever we meet withal abroad, if the soul be quiet, thi- 
ther we can retire with comfort. See that all be well 
within, and then all troubles from without cannot 
much annoy us. 

' Grace will teach us to reason thus, God hath given 
mine enemies power over my liberty and condition, 
but shall they have power and liberty over my spirit ? 
It is that which Satan and they most seek for : but 
never yield, O my soul ! and thus a godly man will 
become more than a conqueror ; when in appearance 
he is conquered^ the cause prevails, his spirit prevails, 
and is undaunted. A Christian is not subdued till 
his spirit be subdued. Thus Job prevailed over Sa- 
tan and all his troubles at length. This tormenteth 
proud persons to see godly men enjoy a calm and re- 
solute frame of mind in the midst of troubles ; when 
their enemies are more troubled in troubling them, 
than they are in being troubled by them. 


We see likewise here, how to frame our complaints: 
David complains not of God, nor of his troubles, nor 
of others, but of his own soul : He complains of him- 
self to himself ; as if he should say, Though all things 
else be out of order, yet, my Soul, thou shouldst 
not trouble me too : thou shouldst not betray thyself 
unto troubles, but rule over them, A godly man 
complains to God, but not of God, but of himself; 
a carnal man is ready to justify himself and complain 
of God, he complains not to God, but of God, 
at the least, in secret murmuring, he complains of 
others that are but God's vials; he complains of 
the grievance that lies upon him, but never regards 
what is amiss in himself within : Openly he cries 
out upon fortune, yet secretly he striketh at God, 
under that idol of fortune, by whose guidance all 
things come to pass ; whilst he quarrels with that 
which is nothing, he wounds him that is the cause of 
all things ; like a gouty man that complains of his 
shoe, and of his bed ; or an aguish man of his drink, 
when the cause is from within. So men are dis- 
quieted with others, when they should rather be dis- 
quieted and angry with their own hearts. 

We condemn Jonas for contending with God, and 
justifying his unjust anger, but yet the same risings 
are in men naturally, if shame would suffer them to 
give vent to their secret discontent; their heart speaks 
what Jonas' tongue spake. Oh, but here we should 
lay our hand upon our mouth, and adore God, and 
command silence to our souls. 

No man is hurt but by himself first ; We are drawn 
to evil, and allured from a true good to a false by 
our own lusts, God tempts no man, Jam. i. 13. Sa- 
tan hath no power over us further than we wiUingly 

46 THE soul's conflict. 

lie open to him ; Satan works upon our affections, 
and then our affections work upon our will. He doth 
not work immediately upon the will ; we may thank 
ourselves in willingly yielding to our own passions, 
for all that ill Satan or his instruments draws us unto ; 
Saul was not vexed with an evil spirit, 1 Sam. xvi. 
till he gave way to his own evil spirit of envy first. 
The devil entered not into Judas, Matt, xxvii. 3, 
until his coveteous heart made way for him. The 
apostle strengtheneth his conceit against rash and 
lasting anger from hence, that by this we give way 
to the devil, Eph. iv. It is a dangerous thing to pass 
from God's government, and come under Satan's. 

Satan mingleth himself with our own passions, 
therefore we should blame ourselves first, be ashamed 
of ourselves most, and judge ourselves most severely. 
But self-love teacheth us the contrary method, to 
translate all upon others ; it robs us of a right judg- 
ment of ourselves. Though we desire to know all 
diseases of the body by their proper names, yet we 
will conceive of sinful passions of the soul under 
milder terms ; as lust under love, rage under just 
anger, murmuring under just displeasure, &c, thus 
whilst we flatter our grief, what hope of cure ! Thus 
sin hath not only made all the creatures enemies to 
us, but ourselves the greatest enemies to ourselves, 
and therefore we should begin our complaints against 
ourselves, and discuss ourselves thoroughly ; how 
else shall we judge truly of other things without us, 
above us, or beneath us ? The sun when it rises en- 
lightens first the nearest places, and then the more 
remote ; so where true light is set up, it discovers 
what is amiss within first. 

Hence also we see, that as in all discouragements 
a godly man hath most trouble with his own heart, 


SO he knows how to carry himself therein, as David 
doth here. 

For the better clearing of this, we must know there 
be divers kinds and degrees of conflicts in the soul 
of man, whilst it is united to the body. 

First, between one corrupt passion and another, as 
between covetousness and pride ; pride calls for ex- 
pense, covetousness for restraint; oft passions fight 
not only against God and reason, to which they owe 
a homage, but one against another ; sin fights against 
sin, and a lesser sin is oftentimes overcome by a greater. 
The soul in this case is like the sea tossed with con- 
trary winds ; and like a kingdom divided, wherein 
the subjects fight both against their prince, and one 
against another. 

Secondly, There is a natural conflict in the affec- 
tions, whereby nature seeks to preserve itself, as be- 
twixt anger and fear; anger calls for revenge, fear 
of the law binds the soul to be quiet. We see in the 
creatures, fear makes them abstain from that which 
their appetites carry them unto. A wolf comes to a 
flock with an eagerness to prey upon it, but seeing 
the shepherd standing in defence of his sheep, returns 
and doth no harm ; and yet for all this, as he came a 
wolf, so he returns a wolf. 

A natural man may oppose some sin from an ob- 
stinate resolution against it, not from any love of God, 
or hatred of sin, as sin, but because he conceives it 
a brave thing to have his will. As one hard weapon 
may strike at another, as a stone wall may beat back 
an arrow ; but this opposition is not from a contra- 
riety of nature, as is betwixt fire and water. 

Thirdly, There is a conflict of a higher nature, as 
between some sins and the light of reason helped by 
a natural conscience. The heathen could reason from 


the dignity of the soul, to count it a base thing to 
prostitute themselves to beastly lusts, so as it were 
degrading and unmanning themselves. Natural men 
desirous to maintain a great opinion of themselves, 
and to awe the inferior sort by gravity of deportment 
in carriage, will abstain from that, which otherwise 
their hearts carry them unto, lest yielding should ren- 
der them despised, by laying themselves too much 
open ; as because passion discovers a fool as he is, 
and makes a wise man thought meaner than he is ; 
therefore a prudent man will conceal his passion. Rea- 
son refined and raised by education, example, and 
custom, doth break in some degree the force of natural 
corruption, and brings into the soul, as it were, ano- 
ther nature, and yet no true change ; as we see in 
such as have been inured to good courses, they feel 
conscience checking them upon the first discontinu- 
ance and alteration of their former good ways, but this 
is usually from a former impression of their breeding, 
as the boat moves some little time upon the water by 
virtue of the former stroke, yet at length we see corrup- 
tion prevailing over education, as in Joas, who was 
awed by the reverent respect he bare to his uncle Je- 
hoiada, he was good all his uncle's days, 2 Kings, xii. 2. 
And in Nero, in whom the goodness of his education 
prevailed over the fierceness of his nature, for the first 
five years. 

Fourthly, but in the Church, where there shineth 
a light above nature, as there is a discovery of more 
sins, and some strength, with the light, to perform 
more duty ; so there is a further conflict than in a man 
that hath no better than nature in him. By a dis- 
covery of the excellent things of the Gospel, there 
may be some kind of joy stirred up, and some degree 
of obedience : whence there may be some degree of 


resistance against the sins of the Gospel, as obstinate 
unbehef, desperation, profaneness, &:c. A man in 
the Church may do more than another out of the 
Church, by reason of the enlargement of his know- 
ledge ; whereupon such cannot sin at so easy a rate 
as others that know less, and, therefore, meet with less 
opposition from conscience. 

Fifthly, there is yet a further degree of conflict 
betwixt the sanctified powers of the soul, and the 
flesh, not only as it is seated in the baser parts, but 
even in the best faculties of the soul, and as it mingles 
itself with every gracious performance: as in David, 
there is not only a conflict betwixt sin and conscience, 
enlightened by a common work of the spirit ; but be- 
tween the commanding powers of the soul sanctified^ 
and itself unsanctified^ between reasons of the flesh 
and reasons of the spirit, between yaz7/i and distrust^ 
between the true light of knowledge, and false hght. 
For it is no question but the flesh would play its part 
in David, and muster up all the strength of reason it 
had. And usually y?e5 A, as it is more ancient than 
the spirit, we being first natural, then spiritual, so it 
will put itself first forward in devising shifts, as Esau 
comes out of the womb first before Jacob ; yet hereby 
the spirit is stirred up to a present examination and 
resistance, and in resisting, as we see here, at length 
the godly gets the victory. As in the conflict between 
the higher parts of the soul with the lower, it clearly 
appears, that the soul doth not rise out of the temper 
of the body, but is a more noble substance, command- 
ing the body by reasons fetched from its own worth ; 
so in this spiritual conflict, it appears there is some- 
thing better than the soul itself, that hath superiority 
over it. 




Difference between good Men and others in 
Conjiicts with Sin, 

BUT how doth it appear that this combat in David 
was a spiritual combat ? 

First, a natural conscience is troubled for sins against 
the hght of nature only, but David for inward and 
secret corruptions, as discouragement and disquietness 
arising from faint trusting in God. 

David's conflict was not only with the sensual lower 
part of his soul, which is carried to ease and quiet, 
and love of present things, but he was troubled with 
a mutiny in his understanding, between faith and 
distrust ; and therefore he was forced to rouse up his 
soul so oft to trust in God, which shows that carnal 
reason did solicit him to discontent, and had many 
colourable reasons for it. 

Secondly, a man endued with common grace, is 
rather a patient than an agent in conflicts ; the light 
troubles him against his will, as discovering and re- 
proving him, and hindering his sinful contentments, 
his heart is more biased another way if the light 
would let him ; but a godly man labours to help the 
light, and to work his heart to an opposition against 
sin ; he is an agent as well as a patient. As David 
here doth not suffer disquieting, but is disquieted with 
himself for being so. A godly man is an agent in 
opposing his corruption, and a patient in enduring 
of it ! whereas a natural man is a secret agent in and 
for his corruptions, and a patient in regard of any 
help against them ; a good man suffers evil and doth 
good, a natural man suffers good and doth evil. 


Thirdly, A conscience guided by common light, 
withstands distempers most by outward means, but 
David here fetcheth help from the Spirit of God in 
him, and from trust in God. Nature works from 
within, so doth the new nature ; David is not only 
something disquieted, and something troubled for 
being disquieted, but sets himself thoroughly against 
his distempers ; he complains, and expostulates, he 
censures, and chargeth his soul. The other, if he doth 
any thing at all, yet it is faintly ; he seeks out his 
corruption as a coward doth his enemy, loath to find 
him, and more loath to encounter with him. 

Fourthly, David withstands sin constantly, and 
gets ground. We see here, he gives not over at the 
first, but presseth again and again. Nature works 
constantly, so doth the new nature. The conflict in 
the other is something forced, as taking part with 
the worser side in himself; good things have a weak, 
or rather no party in him, bad things a strong; and 
therefore he soon gives over in this holy quarrel. 

Fifthly, David is not discouraged by his foils, but 
sets himself afresh against his corruptions, with con- 
fidence to bring them under. Whereas he that hath 
but a common work of the Spirit, after some foils, 
lets his enemy prevail more and more, and so despairs 
of victory, and thinks it better to sit still, than to rise 
and take a new fall ; by which means his latter end 
is worse than his beginning ; for beginning in the 
spirit, he ends in the flesh. A godly man, although 
upon some foil, he may for a time be discouraged, 
yet by holy indignation against sin, he renews his 
force, and sets afresh upon his corruptions, and ga- 
thers more strength by his falls, and groweth into more 
acquaintance with his own heart, and Satan's malice. 

52 THE soul's conflict. 

and God's strange ways in bringing light out of dark- 

Sixthly, An ordinary Christian may be disquieted 
for being disquieted, as David was, but then it is only 
as disquiet hath vexation in it; but David here striveth 
against the unquietness of his spirit, not only as it 
brought vexation with it, but as it hindered commu- 
nion with his God. 

In sin there is not only a guilt binding over the 
soul to God's judgment, and thereupon filling the 
soul with inward fears and terrors ; but in sin like- 
wise there is, 1. a contrariety to God's holy nature; 
and 2. a contrariety to the divine nature and image 
stamped upon ourselves; 3. a weakening and dis- 
abling of the soul from good ; and 4. a hindering of our 
former communion with God, sin being in its nature 
a leaving of God the fountain of all strength and com- 
fort, and cleaving to the creature ; hereupon the soul 
having tasted the sweetness of God before, is now 
grieved, and this grief is not only for the guilt and 
trouble that sin draws after it, but from an inward 
antipathy and contrariety betwixt the sanctified soul 
^nd sin. It hates sin as sin, as the only bane and 
poison of renewed nature, and the only thing that 
breeds strangeness betwixt God and the soul. And 
this hatred is not so much from discourse and strength 
of reason, as from nature itself rising presently against 
its enemy ; the lamb presently shuns the wolf from 
a contrariety; antipathies wait not for any strong 
reason, but are exercised upon the first presence of a 
contrary object. 

Seventhly, hereupon ariseth the last difference ; 
that because the soul hateth sin as sin, therefore it 
opposeth it universally and eternally, in all the powers 


of the soul, and in all actions inward and outward 
issuing from those powers; D avid regarded no iniguiti/ 
in his hearty but hated every evil way, Psalm Ixvi. 
18, the desires of his soul were, that it wight be so 
directed that he might keep God's law, Psalm cxix. 
5. And if there had been no binding law, yet there 
was such a sweet sympathy and agreement betwixt 
his soul and God's truth, that he delighted in it 
above all natural sivcetness ; hence it is that Saint 
John saith, He that is born of God cannot sin, 
1 John iii. 9, that is, so far forth as he is born of 
God; his new nature will not suffer him, he cannot 
lie, he cannot deceive, he cannot be earthly minded, 
he cannot but love and delight in the persons and 
things that are good. There is not only a light in 
the understanding, but a new life in the will, and all 
other faculties of a godly man ; what good his know- 
ledge disco vereth, that his will makes choice of, and 
his heart loveth ; what ill his understanding dis- 
covers, that his will hateth and abstains from. But 
in a man not thoroughly converted, the will and af- 
fections are bent otherwise, he loves not the good he 
doth, nor hates the evil he doth not. 

Therefore let us make a narrow search into our 
souls upon what grounds we oppose sin, and fight 
God's battles. A common Christian is not cast down, 
because he is disquieted in God's service, or for his 
inward failings, that he cannot serve God with that 
hberty and freedom he desires, &c. But a godly 
man is troubled for his distempers, because they hin- 
der the comfortable intercourse betwixt God and his 
soul, and that spiritual composedness, and sabbath 
of spirit which he enjoyed before, and desires to en- 
joy again. He is troubled that the waters of his soul 


are troubled so, that the image of Christ shines not 
in him as it did before. It grieves him to find an 
abatement in affection , in love to God, a distraction 
or coldness in performing duties, any doubting of 
God's favour, any discouragement from duty, &c. 
A godly man's comforts and grievances are hid from 
the world ; natural men are strangers to them. Let 
this be a rule of discerning our estates, how we stand 
affected to the distempers of our hearts ; if we find 
them troublesome, it is a ground of comfort unto us 
that our spirits are ruled by a higher Spirit; and 
that there is a principle of that life in us, which can- 
not brook the most secret corruption, but rather casts 
it out by a holy complaint, as strength of nature doth 
poison, which seeks its destruction. And let us be 
in love with that work of grace in us, which makes 
us out of love with the least stirring that hinders our 
best condition. 

See again. We may be sinfully disquieted for that 
which is not a sin to be disquieted for, David had 
sinned if he had not been somewhat troubled for the 
banishment from God's house, and the blasphemy of 
the enemies of the Church ; but yet, we see, he stops 
himself, and sharply takes up his soul for being dis- 
quieted : he did well in being disquieted, and in check- 
ing himself for the same ; there were good ground's 
for both : he had wanted spiritual hfe if he had not 
been disquieted : he abated the vigour and liveliness 
of his life, by being overmuch disquieted. 



Of unfitting Dejection : andvjhenit is excessive. And 
what is the right Temper of the Soul herein, 

§ I. rjlHEN, how shall 7ve know when a man is 
-^ cast down and disquieted, otherwise than 
is befitting ? 

There is a threefold miscarriage of inward trouble. 

1. When the soul is troubled for that it should 
not be vexed for, as Ahab, when he was crossed in 
his will for Naboth's vineyard. 

2. In the ground, as when we grieve for that which 
is good, and for that which we should grieve for ; but 
it is with too much reflecting upon our own particular. 

As in the troubles of the state or Church, we ought 
to be affected ; but not because these troubles hinder 
any liberties of the flesh, and restrain pride of hfe, 
but from higher respects ; as that by these troubles 
God is dishonoured, the public exercises of rehgion 
hindered, and the gathering of souls thereby stopped ; 
as the states and commonwealth, which should be 
harbours of the Church, are disturbed; as lawless 
courses and persons prevail ; as rehgion and justice 
is triumphed over, and trodden under. Men usually 
are grieved for pubhc miseries from a spirit of self-love 
only, because their own private is embarked in the 
public. There is a depth of deceit of the heart in this 

3. So for the measure, when we trouble ourselves 
(though not without cause) yet without bounds. 

The spirit of man is hke unto moist elements, as 
air and water, which have no bounds of their own to 
contain them in, but those of the vessel that keeps 


them : water is spilt and lost without something to 
hold it; so it is with the spirit of man, unless it be 
bounded with the Spirit of God. Put the case, a man 
be disquieted for sin, for which not to be disquieted 
is a sin, yet we may look too much, and too long 
upon it, for the soul hath a double eye, one to look 
to sin, another to look up to God's mercy in Christ. 
Having two objects to look on, we may sin in looking 
too much on the one, with neglect of the other. 

§ II. Seeing then, disquieting and dejection for sin 
is necessary, how shall we know when it exceeds mea- 

First, when it hinders us from holy duties, or in 
the pe7]forma7ice of them, by distraction or otherwise ; 
whereas they are given to carry us to that which is 
pleasing to God, and good to ourselves. 

Grief is ill when it taketh off the soul from minding 
that it should, and so indisposeth us to the duties of 
our callings. Christ upon the cross was grieved to 
the utmost, yet it did not take away his care for his 
mother : so the good thief, Luke xxiii. 42, in the 
midst of his pangs laboured to gain his fellow, and to 
save his own soul, and to glorify Christ. If this be 
so in grief of body, which taketh away the free use of 
reason, and exercise of grace more than any other 
grief, then much more in grief from more remote causes; 
for in extremity of body the sickness may be such, as 
all that we can perform to God is a quiet submission, 
and a desire to be carried unto Christ by the prayers 
of others ; we should so mind our grief as not to for- 
get God's mercy, or our own duty. 

Secondly, when we forget the grounds of comfort, 
and suffer our mind to run only upon the present 


grievance, it is a sin to dwell on sin, and turmoil our 
thoughts about it, when we are called to thankfulness. 
A physician in good discretion forbids a dish at some 
times to prevent the nourishment of some disease, 
which another time he gives way unto. So we may and 
ought to abstain from too much feeding our thoughts 
upon our corruptions in case of discouragement, which 
at other times is very necessary. It should be our 
wisdom in such cases to change the object, and labour 
to take off our minds, and give them to that which 
calls more for them. Grief oft presseth unseasonably 
upon us, when there is cause of joy, and when we 
are called to joy ; as Joab justly found fault with Da- 
vid for grieving too much, when God had given him 
the victory, and rid him and the state of a traitorous 
son. God hath made some days for joy, and joy is 
the proper work of those days. This is the day which 
the Lord hath made, Psalm cxviii. 24. Some in a 
sick distemper desire that which increaseth their sick- 
ness; so some that are deeply cast down, desire 
a wakening ministry, and whatever may cast them 
down more ; whereas they should meditate upon com- 
forts, and get some sweet assurance of God's love. 
Joy is the constant temper which the soul should be 
in. Rejoice evermore, 1 Thes. v. 16, saith the Apostle. 
If a sink be stirred, we stir it not more, but go into a 
sweeter room. So we should think of that which is 
comfortable, and of such truths as may raise up the 
soul, and sweeten the spirit. 

Thirdly, Grief is too much, when it inchnes the soul 
to any inconvenient courses : for if it be not looked 
to, it is an ill counsellor, when either it hurts the health 
of our bodies, or draws the soul, for to ease itself, to 
some unlawful liberty. When grief keeps such a noise 

58 THE soul's conflict. 

in the soul, that it will not hear what the messengers 
of God, or the still voice of the Spirit saith ; as in 
combustions, loud cries are scarce heard : so in such 
cases the soul will neither hear itself nor others. The 
fruit of this overmuch trouble of spirit is increase of 

§ III. Another question may be. What that sweet 
and holy temper is the soul should be in, that it 
may neither be faulty in the defect, nor too much 
abound in grief and sorrow ? 

1. The soul must be raised to a right grief. 

2. The grief that is raised, though it be right, yet 
it must be bounded. Before we speak of raising 
grief in the godly, we must know there are some who 
are altogether strangers to any kind of spiritual grief 
or trouble at all ; such must consider, that the way to 
prevent everlasting trouble, is to desire to be troubled 
with a preventing trouble. Let those that are not in 
the way of grace think with themselves what cause 
they have not to take a minute's rest while they are in 
that estate. For a man to be in debt both body and 
soul, subject every minute to be arrested and carried 
prisoner to hell, and not to be moved : for a man to 
have the wrath of God ready to be poured out upon 
him, and hell gape for him, nay, to carry a hell about 
him in conscience, if it were awake, and to have all 
his comfort here hanging upon a weak thread of this 
life ready to be cut and broken off every moment, 
and to be cursed in all those blessings that he enjoys ; 
and yet not to be disquieted, but continually trea- 
suring up wrath against the day of wrath, by running 
deeper into God's books : for a man to be thus, and 
not to be disquieted, is but the devil's peace, whilst 

THE soul's conflict. 6^ 

the strong man holds possession. A burning ague 
is more hopeful than a lethargy : The best service 
that can be done to such men, is to startle and rouse 
them, and so with violence to pull them out of the fire, 
as Jude speaks, chap, xxiii. or else they will another 
day curse that cruel mercy that lets them alone now. 
In all their jollity in this world, they are but as a book 
fairly bound, which when it is opened is full of nothing 
but tragedies. So when the book of their consciences 
shall be once opened, there is nothing to be read but 
lamentations and woes. Such men were in a way of 
hope, if they had but so much apprehension of their 
estates, as to ask themselves. What have I done? If 
this be true that there are such fearful things prepared 
for sinners, why am I not cast down ? Why am I no 
more troubled and discouraged for my wicked courses? 
Despair to such is the beginning of comfort ; and 
trouble the beginning of peace. A storm is the way 
to a calm, and hell the way to heaven. 

But for raising of a right grief in the soul of a holy 
man, look what is the state of the soul in itself in 
what terms it is with God : whether there be any sin 
hanging on the file unrepented of. If all be not well 
within us, then here is place for inward trouble, where- 
by the soul may afflict itself. 

God saw this grief so needful for his people, that he 
appointed certain days for afflicting them. Lev. xvi. 
29 ; because it is fit that sin contracted by joy should 
be dissolved by grief; and sin is so deeply invested 
into the soul, that a separation betwixt the soul and 
it cannot be wrought without much grief; when the 
soul hath smarted for sin, it sets then the right price 
upon reconciliation with God in Christ, and it feeleth 
what a bitter thing sin is, and therefore it will be afraid 

66 THE soul's conflict. 

to be too bold with it afterward ; it likewise awTth 
the heart so, that it will not be so loose towards God as 
it was before ; and certainly that soul that hath felt 
the sweetness of keeping peace with God, cannot but 
take deeply to heart, that there should be any thing 
in us that should divide betwixt us and the fountain 
of our comfort, that should stop the passage of our 
prayers and the current of God's favours both towards 
ourselves and others, it is such an ill as is the cause 
of all other ill, and damps all our comforts. 

2. We should look out of ourselves also, consider- 
ing whether for troubles at home and abroad, God 
calls not to mourning or troubling of ourselves ; grief 
of compassion is as well required as grief of contrition. 

It is a dead member that is not sensible of the state 
of the body. Jeremy, for fear he should not weep 
enough for the distressed estate of the Church, desired 
of God, that his eyes might be made a fountain of 
tears y Jer. ix. 1. A Christian, as he must not be 
proud flesh, so neither must he be dead flesh ; none 
more truly sensible either of sin or of misery, so far 
as misery carries with it any sign of God's displeasure, 
than a true Christian : which issues from the life of 
grace, which, where it is in any measure, is lively, 
and therefore sensible : for God gives motion and 
senses for the preservation of life. As God's bowels 
are tender towards us, so God's people have tender 
bowels towards him, his cause, his people, and his 
Church, The fruit of this sensibleness, is earnest 
prayer to God. As Melancthon said well, If I cared 
for nothing, I would pray for nothing, 

2. Grief being thus raised, must, as we said before, 
be bounded and guided. 

1, God hath framed the soul, and planted such 


affections in it, as may answer all his dealing towards 
his children ; that when he enlargeth himself towards 
them, then the soul should enlarge itself to him again ; 
when he opens his hand, we ought to open our hearts ; 
when he shews any token of displeasure, we should 
grieve ; when he troubles us, we should trouble and 
grieve ourselves. As God any way disco vereth him- 
self, so the soul should be in a suitable pliableness. 
Then the soul is as it should be, when it is ready to 
meet God at every turn, to joy when he calls for it, 
to mourn when he calls for that, to labour to know 
God's meaning in every thing. 

Again, God hath made the soul for a communion 
with himself, which communion is especially placed 
in the affections, which are the springs of all spiritual 
worship. Then the affections are well ordered, when 
we are fit to have communion with God, to love, joy, 
trust, to delight in him above all things. The affec- 
tions are the inward movings of the soul which then 
move best when they move us to God, not from him. 
They are the feet of the soul, whereby we walk wuth, 
and before God. When we have our affections at 
such command, that we can take them off from any 
thing in the world, at such times as we are to have 
more near communion with God in heaven or prayer, 
&c. Gen. xxii. 5. As Abraham when he was to sacri- 
fice, left whatsoever might hinder him at the bottom 
of the Mount. When we let our affections so far into 
the things of the world, as we cannot take them off 
when we are to deal with God ; it is a sign of spiritual in- 
temperancy. It is said of the Israelites that they brought 
jEgypt with them into the wilderness ; so many bring 
the world into their hearts with them, when they come 
before God. 


But because our affections are never well ordered 
without judgment, as being to follow, not to lead ; 
it is an evidence that the soul is in a fit temper, when 
there is such a harmony in it, as that we judge of 
things as they are, and affect as we judge, and ex- 
ecute as we affect. This harmony within breeds uni- 
formity and constancy in our resolutions, so that 
there is, as it were, an even thread drawn through 
the whole course and tenor of our lives, when we are 
not off and on, up and down. It argues an ill state 
of body when it is very hot, or very cold, or hot in 
one part, and cold in another ; so unevenness of spirit 
argues a distemper ; a wise man's Hfe is of one colour 
like itself. The soul bred from heaven, so far as it is 
heavenly minded, desires to be, hke heaven, above 
all storms, uniform, constant; not as things under 
the sun, which are always in changes, constant only 
in inconstancy. Affections are as it were the wind 
of the soul, and then the soul is carried as it should 
be, when it is neither so becalmed that it moves not 
when it should, nor yet tossed with tempests to move 
disorderly. When it is so well balanced that it is 
neither lift up, nor cast down too much, but keepeth 
a steady course. Our affections must not rise to be- 
come unruly passions, for then as a river that over- 
floweth the banks, they carry much slime and soil 
with them. Though affections be the wind of the 
soul, yet unruly passions are the storms of the soul, 
and will overturn all, if they be not suppressed. The 
best, as we see in David here, if they do not steer 
their hearts aright, are in danger of sudden gusts. 
A Christian must neither be a dead sea, nor a raging 

Our affections are then in best temper, when they 


become so many graces of the Spirit ; as when love 
is turned to a love of God ; joy, to a delight in the 
best things ; fear, to a fear of offending him more than 
any creature ; sorrow, to a sorrow for sin, &c. 

They are likewise in good temper, when they move 
us to all duties of love and mercy towards others ; 
when they are not shut where they should be open, 
nor open where they should be shut. 

Yet there is one case wherein exceeding affection 
is not over exceeding ; as in an ecstasy of zeal upon 
a sudden apprehension of God's dishonour, and his 
cause trodden under foot. It is better in this case, 
rather scarce to be own men, than to be calm or quiet. 
It is said of Christ and David, that their hearts were 
eaten up with a holy zeal for God's house. In such 
a case Moses, unparalleled for meekness, was turned 
into a holy rage. The greatness of the provocation, 
the excellency of the object, and the weight of the 
occasion, bears out the soul, not only without blame, 
but with great praise, in such seeming distempers. 
It is the glory of a Christian to be carried with full 
sail, and as it were with a spring- tide of affection. 
So long as the stream of affection runneth in the due 
channel, and if there be great occasions for great mo- 
tions, then it is fit the affections should rise higher, 
as to burn with zeal, to be sick of love, Cant. ii. 5. 
to be more vile for the Lord, as David ; to be counted 
out of our wits with Saint Paul, to further the cause 
of Christ and the good of souls. 

Thus we may see the life of a poor Christian in 
this world. 1. He is in great danger, if he be not 
troubled at all. 2. When he is troubled, he is in dan- 
ger to be over-troubled. 3. When he hath brought 
his soul in tune again, he is subject to new troubles. 


Betwixt this ebbing and flowing there is very httle 
quiet. Now because this cannot be done without a 
great measure of God's Spirit, our help is to make use 
of that promise of giving the holy Ghost to them that 
ask it, John xi. 13. To teach us when, how long, 
and how much to grieve : and when, and how long, 
and how much to rejoice ; the Spirit must teach the 
heart this, who as he moved upon the waters before 
the creation, so he must move upon the waters of our 
souls, for we have not the command of our own hearts. 
Every natural man is carried away with his flesh and 
humours, upon which the devil rides, and carries 
him whither he list; he hath no better counsellors 
than flesh and blood, and Satan counselling with 
them. But a godly man is not a slave to his carnal 
affections, but (as David here) labours to bring into 
captivity the first motions of sin in his heart. 


Of the Soul's Disquiets, God's Dealings, and 
Power to contain ourselves in order, 

MOREOVER we see, that ^^e soUl hath disquiets 
proper to itself, besides those griefs of sympathy 
that arise from the body ; for here the soul com- 
plains of the soul itself, as when it is out of the body 
it hath torments and joys of its own. And if these 
troubles of the soul be not well cured, then by way 
of fellowship and redundance they will aflect the out- 
ward man, and so the whole man shall be en wrapt in 

From whence we further see, that God, when he 
tvill humble a man, need not fetch forces from with- 
out, if he let but our own hearts loose, we shall have 


trouble and work enough, though, we were as holy 
as David, God did not only exercise him with a re- 
beUious son out of his own loins, but with rebellious 
risings out of his own heart. If there were no enemy 
in the world, nor devil in hell, we carry that within 
us, that, if it be let loose, will trouble us more than 
all the world besides. Oh that the proud creature 
should exalt himself against God, and run into a vo- 
luntary course of provoking him, who cannot only 
raise the humours of our bodies against us, but the 
passions of our minds also to torment us ! There- 
fore it is the best wisdom not to provoke the great 
God, for are we stronger than he, 1 Cor. x. 22, that 
can raise ourselves against ourselves ? and work won- 
ders not only in the great world, but also in the little 
world, our souls and bodies, when he pleases ? 

We see likewise hence a necessity of having some- 
thing in the soul above itself, it must be partaker of 
a diviner nature than itself ; otherwise, when the 
most refined part of our souls, the very spirit of our 
minds is out of frame, what shall bring it in again ? 
Therefore we must conceive in a godly man, a double 
self, one which must be denied, the other which must 
deny ; one that breeds all the disquiet, and another 
that stilleth what the other hath raised. The way to 
still the soul, as it is under our corrupt self, is not to 
parley with it, and divide government for peace sake, 
as if we should gratify the flesh in some things, to re- 
deem liberty to the spirit in other things ; for we shall 
find the flesh will be too encroaching. We must 
strive against it, not with subtlety and discourse so 
much, as with peremptory violence silence it and vex 
it ; an enemy that parleys will yield at length. Grace 
is nothing else but that blessed power, whereby as 


spiritual we gain upon ourselves as carnal. Holy love 
is that which we gain of self-love ; and so joy, and 
delight, &c. Grace labours to win ground of the old 
man, until at length it be all in all; indeed we are never 
ourselves perfectly, till we have wholly put off our- 
selves ; nothing should be at a greater distance to us, 
than ourselves. This is the reason why carnal men 
that have nothing above themselves but their corrupt 
self, sink in great troubles, having nothing within to 
uphold them, whereas a good man is wiser than himself, 
holier than himself, stronger than himself, there is 
something in him more than a man. There be evils 
that the spirit of man alone out of the goodness of na- 
ture cannot bear, but the spirit of man assisted with a 
higher spirit, will support and carry him through. It is 
a good trial of a man's condition to know what he es- 
teems to be himself. A godly man counts the inner 
man, the sanctified part, to be himself, whereby he 
stands in relation to Christ and a better life. Another 
man esteems his contentment in the world, the satis- 
faction of his carnal desires, the respect he finds from 
men by reason of his parts, or something without him, 
that he is master of, this he counts himself, and by 
this he values himself, and to this he makes his best 
thoughts and endeavours serviceable ; and of crosses 
in these things he is most sensible, and so sensible, 
that he thinks himself undone if he seeth not a present 
issue out of them. 

That which most troubles a good man in all troubles 
is himself, so far as he is unsubdued ; he is more dis- 
quieted with himself, than with all troubles out of 
himself; when he hath gotten the better once of him- 
self, whatsoever falls from without, is light ; where 
the spirit is enlarged, it cares not much for outward 

THE soul's conflict. 615 

bondage ; where the spirit is h^tsome, it cares not 
much for outward darkness; where the spirit is settled, 
it cares not much for outward changes ; where the 
spirit is one with itself, it cannot bear outward breaches ; 
where the spirit is sound, it can bear outward sickness. 
Nothing can be very ill with us, when all is well within. 
This is the comfort of a holy man, that though he be 
troubled with himself, yet by reason of the spirit in 
him, which is his better self, he works out by degrees 
whatever is contrary. As spring- water being clear of 
itself, works itself clean, though it be troubled by 
something cast in ; as the sea will endure no poison- 
ful thing, but casts it upon the shore. But a carnal 
man is like a spring corrupted, that cannot work it- 
self clear, because it is wholly tainted ; his eye and 
light is darkness, and therefore no wonder if he seeth 
nothing. Sin lieth upon his understanding, and hin- 
ders the knowledge of itself ; it lies close upon the will, 
and hinders the striving against itself. 

True self that is worth the owning, is when a man 
is taken into a higher condition, and made one with 
Christ, and esteems neither of himself nor others, as 
happy for any thing according to the flesh. 1. He is 
under the law and government of the Spirit, and so 
far as he is himself, works according to that principle. 
2. He labours more and more to be transformed into 
the likeness of Christ, in whom he esteemeth that he 
hath his best being. 3. He esteems of all things that 
befall him, to be good or ill, as they further or hinder 
his best condition. If all be well, for that, he counts 
himself well, whatsoever else befalls him. 

Another man when he doth any thing that is good, 
acts not his own part ; but a godly man when he 
doth good, is in his proper element; what another 

68 THE soul's conflict. 

man doth for by-ends and reasons, that he doth from 
a new nature ; which if there were no law to compel, 
yet would move him to that which is pleasing to 
Christ. If he be drawn aside by passion or tempta- 
tion, that he judgeth not to be himself, but taketh a 
holy revenge on himself for it, as being redeemed and 
taken out from himself; he thinks himself no debtor, 
nor to owe any service to his corrupt self. That 
which he plots and projects and works for is, that 
Christ may rule every where, and especially in him- 
self, for he is not his own but Christ's, and therefore 
desires to be more and more emptied of himself, that 
Christ might be all in all in him. 

Thus we see what great use there is of dealing 
with ourselves, for the better composing and settling 
of our souls. Which though it be a course without 
glory and ostentation in the world, as causing a man 
to retire inwardly into his own breast, having no 
other witness but God and himself; and though it 
be likewise irksome to the flesh, as caUing the soul 
home to itself, being desirous naturally to wander 
abroad, and be a stranger at home : yet it is a course 
both good in itself, and makes the soul good. 

For by this means the judgment is exercised and 
rectified, the will and affections ordered, the whole 
man put into a holy frame fit for every good action. 
By this the tree is made good and the fruit cannot 
but be answerable ; by this the soul itself is set in 
tune, whence there is a pleasant harmony in our 
whole conversation. Without this, we may do that 
which is outwardly good to others, but we can never 
be good ourselves. The first justice begins within, 
when there is a due subjection of all the powers of 
the soul to the spirit, as sanctified and guided by 


God's Spirit ; when justice and order is first estab- 
lished in the soul, it will appear from thence in all 
our dealings. He that is at peace in himself, will be 
peaceable to others, peaceable in his family, peaceable 
in the church, peaceable in the state ; the soul of a 
wicked man is in perpetual sedition ; being always 
troubled in itself, it is no wonder if it be troublesome 
to others. Unity in ourselves is before union with 

To conclude this first part, concerning intercourse 
with ourselves. As we desire to enjoy ourselves, and 
to live the life of men and of Christians, which is, to 
understand our ways : as we desire to live comfort- 
ably, and not to be accessory of yielding to that sorrow 
which causeth death : as we desire to answer God 
and ourselves, when we are to give an account of the 
inward tumults of our souls ; as we desire to be 
vessels prepared for every good work, and to have 
strength to undergo any cross : as we desire to have 
healthy souls, and to keep a sabbath within ourselves : 
as we desire not only to do good, but to be good in 
ourselves : so let us labour to quiet our souls, and 
often ask a reason of ourselves. Why we should not be 
quiet ? 


Means not to he overcharged with Sorrow, 

TO help us further herein, besides that which 
hath been formerly spoken, 
1 . We must take heed of building an ungrounded 
confidence of happiness for time to come : which 
makes us when changes come, 1. Unacquainted with 
them ; 2. Takes away expectation of them ; 3. And 

70 THE soul's conflict. 

preparation for them. When any thing is strange 
and sudden, and lights upon us unfurnished and un- 
fenced, it must needs put our spirits out of frame. 
It is good therefore to make all kind of troubles fa- 
miliar to us, in our thoughts at least, and this will 
break the force of them. It is good to fence our 
souls beforehand against all assaults, as men use to 
keep out the sea, by raising banks ; and if a breach 
be made, to repair it presently. 

We had need to maintain a strong garrison of holy 
reasons against the assaults of strong passions ; we 
may hope for the best, but fear the worst, and pre- 
pare to bear whatsoever. We say that a set diet is 
dangerous, because variety of occasions will force us 
upon breaking of it : so in this world of changes we 
cannot resolve upon any certain condition of life, for 
upon alteration the mind is out of frame. We can- 
not say this or that trouble shall not befall, yet we may, 
by help of the Spirit, say, nothing that doth befall shall 
make me do that which is unworthy of a Christian. 

That which others make easy by suffering, that 
a wise man maketh easy by thinking of before- 
hand. If we expect the worst, when it comes, it is 
no more than we thought of: if better befalls us, 
then it is the sweeter to us, the less we expected it. 
Our Saviour foretells the worst : In the world you 
shall have tribulation^ Job xvi. 33, therefore look 
for it, but then he will not leave us. Satan deludes 
with many promises : but when the contrary falls out, 
he leaves his followers in their distresses. We desire 
peace and rest, but we seek it not in its own place ; 
There is a rest for God's people, Heb. iv. 9, but that 
is not here, nor yet; but it remains for them ; they 
rest from their labours, Rev. xiv. 13, but that is after 

THE soul's conflict. 71 

they are dead in the Lord, There is no sound rest 
till then. Yet this caution must be remembered, 
that we shape not in our fancies such troubles as are 
never likely to fall out. It comes either from weak- 
ness or guiltiness, to fear shadows. We shall not 
need to make crosses, they will, as we say of foul 
weather, come before they be sent for. How many 
evils do people fear, from which they have no further 
hurt than what is bred only by their causeless fears ? 
Nor yet, if they be probable, must we think of them 
so as to be altogether so affected, as if undoubtedly 
they would come, for so we give certain strength to 
an uncertain cross, and usurp upon God, by antici- 
pating that which may never come to pass. It was 
rashness in David to say, / shall one day perish by 
the hand of Saul , 1 Sam. xxvii. 1. 

If they be such troubles as will certainly come to 
pass, as parting with friends and contentments, at 
least, by death ; then 1 . Think of them so as not to 
be much dismayed, but furnish thy heart with strength 
before hand, that they may fall the lighter. 2. Think 
of them so as not to give up the bucklers to passion, 
and lie open as a fair mark for any uncomfortable 
accident to strike to the heart; nor yet so think of 
them as to despise them, but to consider of God's 
meaning in them, and how to take good by them. 
3. Think of the things we enjoy, so as to moderate 
our enjoying of them, by considering there must be 
a parting, and therefore how we shall be able to bear 
it when it comes. 

2. If we desire not to be overcharged with sorrow, 
when that which we fear is fallen upon us, we must 
then beforehand look that our love to any thing in 
this world shoot not so far as that, when the time of 

72 THE soul's conflict. 

severing cometh, we part with so much of our hearts 
by that rent. Those that love too much will always 
grieve too much. It is the greatness of our affections 
which causeth the sharpness of our afflictions. He 
that cannot abound without pride and high minded- 
ness will not want without too much dejectedness. 
Love is planted for such things as can return love ; 
and make us better by loving them, wherein we shall 
satisfy our love to the full. It is pity so sweet an af- 
fection should be lost ; so sorrow is for sin, and for 
other things as they make sin the more bitter to us. 
The life of a Christian should be a meditation how to 
unloose his affections from inferior things; he will 
easily die that is dead before in affection. But this 
will never be unless the soul seeth something better 
than all things in the world, upon which it may bestow 
itself. In that measure our affections die in their ex- 
cessive motion to things below, as they are taken up 
with the love and admiration of the best things. He 
that is much in heaven in his thoughts is free from 
being tossed with tempests here below ; the top of 
those mountains that are above the middle region, 
are so quiet as that the lightest things, as ashes, lie 
still and are not moved. The way to mortify earthly 
members, that bestir themselves in us, is to mind 
things above, Col. iii. 1, 5. The more the ways of 
wisdom lead us on high, the more we avoid the snares 

In the uncertainty of all events here, labour to 
frame that contentment in and from our own selves, 
which the things themselves will not yield ; frame peace 
by freeing our hearts from too much fear, and riches 
by freeing our hearts from covetous desires. Frame 
a sufficiency out of contentedness ; if the soul itself 


be out of tune, outward things will do no more good 
than a fair shoe to a gouty foot. 

And seek not ourselves abroad out of ourselves in 
the conceits of other men. A man shall never live 
quietly that hath not learned to be set light by of 
others. He that is little in his own eyes will not be 
troubled to be little in the eyes of others. Men that 
set too high a price upon themselves, when others 
will not come to their price, are discontent. Those 
whose condition is above their worth, and their pride 
above their condition, shall never want sorrow; yet 
we must maintain our authority and the image of 
God in our places, for that is God's and not ours ; 
and we ought so to carry ourselves as we approve 
ourselves to their consciences, though we have not 
their good words ; Let none despise thy youth, saith 
Saint Paul to Timothy ; that is, ivalk so before them 
as they shall have no cause. It is not in our own 
power what other men think or speak, but it is in our 
power, by God's grace, to live so that none can think 
ill of us, but by slandering, and none believe ill but 
by too much credulity. 

3. When any thing seizeth upon us, we must take 
heed we mingle not our own passions with it; we 
must neither bring sin to, nor mingle sin with the 
suffering; for that* will trouble the spirit more than 
the trouble itself. We are more to deal with our 
own hearts than with the trouble itself. We are not 
hurt till our souls be hurt. God will not have it in 
the power of any creature to hurt our souls, but by 
our own treason against ourselves. 

Therefore we should have our hearts in continual 
jealousy, for they are ready to deceive the best. In 
sudden encounters, some sin doth many times discover 

T4 THE soul's conflict. 

itself, the seed whereof heth hid in our natures, which 
we think ourselves very free from. Who would have 
thought the seeds of murmuring had lurked in the 
meek nature of Moses ? That the seeds of murther 
had lurked in the pitiful heart of David ? 2 Sam. xii. 
9. That the seeds of denial of Christ, Mat. xxvi. 72, 
had lien hid in the zealous affection of Peter towards 
Christ ? If passions break out from us, which we are 
not naturally inclined unto, and over which by grace 
we have got a great conquest, how watchful need we 
be over ourselves in those things, which by temper, 
custom, and company, we are carried unto ? and what 
cause have we to fear continually that we are worse 
than we take ourselves to be ? 

There are many unruly passions lie hid in us, until 
they be drawn out by something that meeteth with 
them; either 1. by way of opposition, as when the 
truth of God spiritually unfolded meets with some be- 
loved corruption, it swelleth bigger ; the force of gun- 
powder is not known until some spark light on it ; 
and oftentimes the stillest natures, if crossed, discover 
the deepest corruptions. Sometimes it is drawn out 
by dealing with the opposite spirits of other men. 
Oftentimes retired men know not what lies hid in 

2. Sometimes by crosses, as many people whilst the 
freshness and vigour of their spirits lasteth, and while 
the flower of age, and a full supply of all things conti- 
nueth, seem to be of a pleasing and calm disposition ; 
but afterwards, when changes come, like Job's wife, 
they are discovered. Then that which in nature is 
unsubdued, openly appears. 

3. Temptations likewise have a searching power to 
bring that to hght in us which was hidden before. 

THE soul's conflict. 75 

Satan hatli been a winnower and a sifter of old, Luke 
xxii. 3 : he thought if Job had been but touched in his 
body, he would have cursed God to his face, Job i. 

Some men out of policy conceal their passion, 
until they see some advantage to let it out; as Esau 
smothered his hatred until his father's death. When 
the restraint is taken away, men, as we say, show 
themselves in their pure naturals ; unloose a tiger or 
a lion, and you know what he is. 

4. Further, let us see more every day into the state 
of our own souls ; what a shame is it that so nimble 
and swift a spirit as the soul is, that can mount up to 
heaven, and from thence come down into the earth in 
an instant, should, whilst it looks over all other things, 
overlook itself ? that it should be skilful in the story, 
almost, of all times and places, and yet ignorant of 
the story of itself? that we should know what is done 
in the court and country, and beyond the seas, and 
be ignorant of what is done at home in our own 
hearts ? that we should live known to others, and yet 
die unknown to ourselves ? that we should be able to 
give account of any thing better than of ourselves to 
ourselves? This is the cause why we stand in our 
own light; why we think better of ourselves than 
others, and better than is cause. This is that which 
hindereth all reformation ; for how can we reform that 
which we are not willing to see, and so we lose one 
of the surest evidences of our sincerity, which is, a 
wiUingness to search into our hearts, and to be searched 
by others. A sincere heart will offer itself to trial. 

And therefore let us sift our actions, and our pas- 
sions, and see what is flesh in them, and what is spirit, 
and so separate the precious from the vile. It is 
good hkewise to consider what sin we were guilty of 

76 THE soul's conflict. 

before, which moved Gocl to give us up to excess in 
any passion, and wherein we have grieved his Spirit. 
Passion will be more moderate when thus it knows it 
must come to the trial and censure. This course will 
either make us weary of passion, or else passion will 
make us weary of this strict course. We shall find 
it the safest way to give our hearts no rest, till we 
have wrought on them to purpose, and gotten the 
mastery over them. 

When the soul is inured to this dealing with itself, 
it will learn the skill to command, and passions will 
be soon commanded, as being inured to be examined 
and checked ; as we see dogs, and such like domes- 
tical creatures, that will not regard a stranger, yet 
will be quieted in brawls presently, by the voice of 
their master, to which they ace accustomed. This 
tits us for service. Unbroken spirits are like unbroken 
horses, unfit for any use, until they be thoroughly 

5. And it were best to prevent, as much as in us 
lieth, the very first risings, before the soul be over- 
cast ; passions are but little motions at the first, but 
grow as rivers do, greater and greater, the further 
they are carried from the spring. The first risings 
are the more to be looked unto, because there is most 
danger in them, and we have least care over them. 
Sin, like rust, or a canker, will by little and little eat 
out all the graces of the soul. There is no staying 
when we are once down the hill, till we come to the 
bottom. No sin but is easier kept out, than driven 
out. If we cannot prevent wicked thoughts, yet we 
may deny them lodging in our hearts. It is our 
giving willing entertainment to sinful motions, that 
increaseth guilt, and hindereth our peace. It is that 

THE soul's conflict. 77 

which moveth God to give us up to a further degree 
of evil affections. Therefore what we are afraid to do 
before men, we should be afraid to think before God. 
It would much further our peace to keep our judg- 
ments clear, as being the eye of the soul, whereby we 
may discern in every action and passion, what is good, 
and what is evil; as likewise to preserve tenderness 
of heart, that may check us at the first, and not brook 
the least evil being discovered. When the heart be- 
gins once to be kindled, it is easy to smother the 
smoke of passion, which otherwise will fume up into 
the head, and gather into so thick a cloud, as we 
shall lose the sight of ourselves, and what is best to 
be done. And therefore David here labours to take 
up his heart at the first ; his care was to crush the 
very first insurrections of his soul, before they came 
to break forth into open rebellion : storms we know 
rise out of little gusts. Little risings neglected cover 
the soul before we are aware. If we would check 
these risings and stifle them in their birth, they would 
not break out afterwards to the reproach of rehgion, 
to the scandal of the weak, to the offence of the strong, 
to the grief of God's Spirit in us, to the disturbance 
of our own spirits in doing good, and to the disheart- 
ening of us in troubling of our inward peace, and 
thereby weakening our assurance. Therefore let us 
stop beginnings as much as may be ; and so soon as 
they begin to rise, let us begin to examine what raised 
them, and whither they are about to carry us. Psalm 
iv. The way to be still, is to examine ourselves first; 
and then censure what stands not with reason. As 
David doth, when he had given way to unbefitting 
thoughts of God's providence. So foolish ^ saith he, 
was I, and as a beast before thee, Psalm Ixxiii. 22. 

78 THE soul's conflict. 

Especially, then look to these sinful stirrings when 
thou art to deal with God. I am to have communion 
with a God of peace ; what then do turbulent thoughts 
and affections in my heart ? I am to deal with a pa- 
tient God, why should I cherish revengeful thoughts ? 
Abraham drove away the birds from the sacrifice^ 
Gen. XV. 11. Troublesome thoughts like birds will 
come before they be sent for, but they should find 
entertainment accordingly. 

6. In all our grievances let us look to something 
that may comfort us, as well as discourage : look to 
that we enjoy, as well as that we want. As in pros- 
perity God mingles some crosses to diet us ; so in all 
crosses there is something to comfort us. As there is 
a vanity lies hid in the best worldly good, so there is 
a blessing lies hid in the worst worldly evil, God 
usually maketh up that with some advantage in an- 
other kind, wherein we are inferior to others. Others 
are in greater place, so they are in greater danger. 
Others be richer, so their cares and snares be greater; 
the poor in the world may be richer in faith than 
they. Jam, ii. 5. The soul can better digest and 
master a low estate than a prosperous, and if under 
some abasement, it is in a less distance from God. 
Others are not so afflicted as we, then they have less 
experience of God's gracious power than we. Others 
may have more healthy bodies, but souls less weaned 
from the world. We would not change conditions 
with them, so as to have their spirits with their con- 
dition. For one half of our lives, the meanest are as 
happy and free from cares, as the greatest monarch : 
that is, whilst both sleep ; and usually the sleep of the 
one is sweeter than the sleep of the other. What is 
all that the earth can afford us, if God deny health? 

THE soul's conflict. 79 

and this a man in the meanest condition may enjoy. 
That wherein one man differs from another, is but 
title, and but for a Httle time ; death leveleth all. 

There is scarce any man, but the good he receives 
from God is more than the ill he feels, if our unthankful 
hearts would suffer us to think so. Is not our health 
more than our sickness ? do w^e not enjoy more than 
we want, I mean, of the things that are necessary ; 
are not our good days more than our evil ? but we 
would go to heaven upon roses, and usually one cross 
is more taken to heart, than a hundred blessings. 
So unkindly we deal with God. Is God indebted to 
us ? doth he owe us any thing ? those that deserve 
nothing, should be content with any thing. 

We should look to others as good as ourselves, as 
well as to ourselves, and then we shall see it is not 
our own case only ; who are we that we should look 
for an exempted condition from those troubles which 
God's dearest children are addicted unto ? 

Thus when we are surprised contrary to our look- 
ing for and liking, we should study rather how to 
exercise some grace, than give way to any passion. 
Think now is a time to exercise our patience, our 
wisdom, and other graces. By this means we shall 
turn that to our greatest advantage, which Satan in- 
tendeth greatest hurt to us by. Thus we shall not 
only master every condition, but make it serviceable 
to our good. If nature teach bees, not only to ga- 
ther honey out of sweet flowers, but out of bitter, 
shall not grace teach us to draw even out of the bit- 
terest condition something to better our souls ? we 
learn to tame all creatures, even the wildest, that we 
may bring them to our use ; and why should we give 
way to our own unruly passions ? 

80 THE soul's conflict. 

7. It were good to have in our eye the beauty of 
a well ordered soul, and we should think that nothing 
in this world is of sufficient worth to put us out of 
frame. The sanctified soul should be like the sun 
in this, which though it worketh upon all these infe- 
rior bodies, and cherisheth them by light and influ- 
ence ; yet is not moved nor wrought upon by them 
again, but keepeth its own lustre and distance : so 
our spirits, being of a heavenly breed, should rule other 
things beneath them, and not be ruled by them. It 
is a holy state of soul to be under the power of nothing 
beneath itself. Are we stirred ? then consider, is this 
matter worth the loss of my quiet ? What we esteem, 
that we love, what we love, we labour for ; and there- 
fore let us esteem highly of a clear calm temper, where- 
by we both enjoy our God and ourselves, and know 
how to rank all things else. It is against nature for 
inferior things to rule that, which the wise disposer of 
all things hath set above them. We owe the flesh 
neither suit nor service, we are no debtors to it. 

The more we set before the soul that quiet estate in 
heaven, which the souls of perfect men now enjoy, and 
itself ere long shall enjoy there, the more it will be 
in love with it, and endeavour to attain unto it. And 
because the soul never worketh better, than when it 
is raised up by some strong and sweet affection ; let 
us look upon our nature, as it is in Christ, in whom 
it is pure, sweet, calm, meek, every way lovely. This 
sight is a changing sight, love is an aflection of imi- 
tation, we affect a likeness to him we love. Let us 
learn of Christ to be humble and meek, and then we 
shall find rest to our souls, Matt. xi. 29. The set- 
ting of an excellent idea and platform before us, will 
raise and draw up our souls higher, and make us sen- 


sible of the least moving of spirit, that shall be con- 
trary to that, the attainment whereof we have in our 
desires. He will hardly attain to mean things, that sets 
not before him higher perfection. Naturally we love to 
see symmetry and proportion, even in a dead picture, 
and are much taken with some curious piece. But why 
should we not rather labour to keep the affections of 
the soul in due proportion ? seeing a meek and well 
ordered soul is not only lovely in the sight of men and 
angels, but is much set by, by the great God himself. 
But now the greatest care of those that set highest 
price upon themselves is, how to compose their out- 
ward carriage in some graceful manner, never study- 
ing how to compose their spirits ; and rather how to 
cover the deformity of their passions than to cure them. 
Whence it is that the foulest inward vices are covered 
with the fairest vizards, and to make this the worse, 
all this is counted the best breeding. 

The Hebrews placed all their happiness in peace, 
and when they would comprise much in one word, 
they would wish peace. This was that the angels 
rought news of from Heaven, at the birth of Christ. 
Now peace riseth out of quietness and order, and God 
that is the God of peace ^ is the God of order first, 
1 Cor. xiv. 33. What is health, but when all the 
members are in their due positure, and all the humours 
in a settled quiet ? Whence ariseth the beauty of the 
world, but from that comely order wherein every crea- 
ture is placed ; the more glorious and excellent crea- 
tures above, and the less below ? So it is in the soul ; 
the best constitution of it is when by the Spirit of 
God it is so ordered, as that all be in subjection to 
the law of the mind. What a sight were it for the 
feet to be where the head is, and the earth to be 


where the heaven is, to see all turned upside down ? 
And to a spiritual eye it seems as great a deformity, 
to see the soul to be under the rule of sinful passions. 

ComeKness riseth out of the fit proportion of divers 
members to make up one body, when every member 
hath a beauty in itself, and is likewise well suited to 
other parts ; a fair face and a crooked body, comely 
upper parts, and the lower parts uncomely, suit not 
well ; because comehness stands in oneness, in a fit 
agreement of many parts to one ; when there is the 
head of a man, and the body of a beast, it is a mon- 
ster in nature ; and is it not as monstrous for to have 
an understanding head, and a fierce untamed heart ? 
It cannot but raise up a holy indignation in us against 
these risings, when we consider how unbeseeming 
they are ; what do these base passions in a heart de- 
dicated to God, and given up to the government of 
his Spirit ? What an indignity is it for princes to go 
afoot, and servants on horseback ? for those to rule, 
whose place is to be ruled ? as being good attendants, 
but bad guides. It was Cham's curse to be a servant 
of servants. 

8. This must be strengthened with a strong self- 
denial, without which there can be no good done in 

There be two things that most trouble us in the 
way to heaven ; corruption within us, and the cross 
without us ; that which is within us must be denied, 
that that which is without us may be endured. Other- 
wise we cannot follow him by whom we look to be 
saved. The gate, the entrance of religion, is narrow ; 
we must strip ourselves of ourselves before we can 
enter ; if we bring any ruling lust to religion, it will 
prove a bitter root of some gross sin, or of apostacy 
and final desperation. 


Those that sought the praise of men, more than 
the praise of God, John xii. 43, could not beHeve, 
because that lust of ambition would, when it should 
be crossed, draw them away. The young man thought 
it better for Christ to lose a disciple, than that he 
should losehis possession. Matt. xix. 22, and therefore 
went away as he came ; Matt. xiii. 25. The third 
{ground came to nothing, because the plough had not 
gone deep enough to break up the roots, whereby 
their hearts were fastened to earthly contentments. 
This self-denial we must carry with us through all 
the parts of religion, both in our active and passive 
obedience ; for in obedience there must be a subjec- 
tion to a superior ; but corrupt self, neither is subject, 
nor can be, Rom. viii. it will have an oar in every 
thing, and maketh every thing, yea, religion service- 
able to itself. It is the idol of the world, or rather 
the god that is set highest of all in the soul ; and so 
God himself is made but an idol. It is hard to deny 
a friend who is another self, harder to deny a wife 
that heth in the bosom, but most hard to deny our- 
selves. Nothing so near us as ourselves to ourselves, 
and yet nothing so far off. Nothing so dear, and 
yet nothing so malicious and troublesome. Hypo- 
crites would part with the fruit of their body, Mic. 
vi. sooner than the sin of their souls. 


Signs of victory over ourselves, and of a subdued 

JT^UT how shall we know, whether we have by 
-'-^ grace got the victory over ourselves or not? 

I answer, 1. If in good actions we stand not so 
much upon the credit of the action, as upon the good 

84 THE soul's conflict. 

that is done. What we do as unto God, we look for 
acceptance from God. It was Jonas his fault to 
stand more upon his own reputation, than the glory 
of God's mercy. It is a prevaihng sign, when though 
there be no outward encouragements, nay, though 
there be discouragements, yet we can rest in the com- 
fort of a good intention. For usually inward com- 
fort is a note of inward sincerity. Jehu must be seen, 
or else all is lost, 2 Kings x. 16. 

2. It is a good evidence of some prevailing, when 
upon religious grounds we can cross ourselves in those 
things unto which our hearts stand most affected; 
this showeth we reserve God his own place in our 

3. When being privy to our own inchnation and 
temper, we have gotten such a supply of spirit, as 
that the grace which is contrary to our temper appears 
J n us. As oft we see, none more patient, than those 
that are naturally inclined to intemperancy of passion, 
because natural proneness makes them jealous over 
themselves. Some out of fear of being overmuch 
moved, are not moved so much as they should be: 
this jealousy stirreth us up to a careful use of all helps, 
where grace is helped by nature, there a little grace 
will go far; but where there is much untowardness 
of nature, there much grace is not so well discerned. 
Sour wines need much sweetening ; and that is most 
spiritual which hath least help from nature, and is 
won by prayer and pains. 

4. When we are not partial when the things con- 
cern ourselves. David could allow himself another 
man's wife, and yet judgeth another man worthy of 
death for taking away ^poor man's lamb, 2. Sam. xii. 
4. Men usually favour themselves too much, when 


they are chancellors in their own cause, and measure 
all things by their private interest. He hath taken a 
good degree in Christ's school, that hath learned to 
foro:et himself here. 

5. It is a good sign, when upon discovery of self- 
seeking we can gain upon our corruption; and are 
wiUing to search and to be searched, what our incli- 
nation is, and where it faileth. That which we favour, 
we are tender of, it must not be touched. A good 
heart, when any corruption is discovered by a search- 
ing ministry, is affected as if it had found out a deadly 
enenw. Touchiness and passion argues guilt. 

6^ This is a sign of a man's victory over himself, 
when he loves health and peace of body and mind, 
with a supply of all needful things, chiefly for this 
end, that he may with more freedom of spirit serve 
God in doing good to others.^ So soon as grace en- 
tereth into the heart, it frameth the heart to be in 
some measure public : and thinks it hath not its end, 
in the bare enjoying of any thing, until it can improve 
what it hath for a further end. Thus to seek our- 
selves is to deny ourselves, and thus to deny ourselves 
is truly to seek ourselves. It is no self-seeking, when 
we care for no more than that, without which we can- 
not comfortably serve God. When the soul can say 
unto God, Lord, as thou wouldst have me serve thee 
in my place, so grant me such a measure of health 
and strength, wherein I may serve thee. 

But what if God thinks it good, that I shall serve 
him in weakness, and in want, and suffering. 

Then, it is a comfortable sign of gaining over our 
own wills, when we can yield ourselves to be disposed 
of by God, as knowing best what is good for us. 
There is no condition but therein we may exercise 

66 THE soul's conflict. 

some grace, and honour God in some measure. Yet 
because some enlargement of condition is ordinarily 
that estate wherein we are best able to do good in ; we 
may in the use of means desire it, and upon that, re- 
sign up ourselves wholly unto God, and make his will 
our will, without exception or reservation, and care for 
nothing more than we can have with his leave and love. 
This Job had exercised his heart unto ; whereupon 
in that great change of condition, he sinned not, Job ii. 
that is, fell not into the sins incident to that dejected 
and miserable state ; into sins of rebellion and dis- 
content. He carried his crosses comely, with that 
staidness and resignedness, which became a holy 

7. It is further a clear evidence of a spirit subdued, 
when we will discover the truth of our affection to- 
wards God and his people though with censure of 
others. David was content to endure the censure of 
neglecting the state and majesty of a king, out of joy 
for settling the ark. Nehemiah could not dissemble 
his grief for the ruins of the church, though in the 
king's presence : Neh, ii. 3. It is a comfortable sign 
of the wasting of self-love, when we can be at a point 
what becomes of ourselves, so it go well with the cause 
of God and the church. 

Now the way to prevail still more over ourselves, 
as when we are to do or suffer any thing, or withstand 
any person in a good cause, &c. is, not to think that 
we are to deal with men, yea, or with devils so much 
as with ourselves. The saints resisted their enemies 
to death, by resisting their own corruptions first : if 
we once get the victory over ourselves, all other things 
are conquered to our ease. All the hurt Satan and 
the world do us, is by correspondency with ourselves. 


All things are so far under us, as we are above our- 

For the further subduing of ourselves, it is good to 
follow sin to the first hold and castle, which is corrupt 
nature ; the streams will lead us to the spring head : 
indeed the most apparent discovery of sin is in the 
outward carriage ; we see it in the fruit before in the 
root ; as we see grace in the expression before in the 
affection : but yet we shall never hate sin thoroughly, 
until we consider it in the poisoned root from whence 
it ariseth. 

That which least troubles a natural man, doth most 
of all trouble a true christian ; a natural man is some- 
times troubled with the fruit of his corruption, and 
the consequents of guilt and punishment that attend 
it ; but a true-hearted christian, with corruption itself; 
this drives him to complain with St. Paul, wretched 
man that I am, who shall deliver me, not from the 
members only, but yVom this body of death ? Rom. vii. 
which is as noisome to my soul, as a dead carrion is 
to my senses ; which together with the members, is 
marvellously nimble and active; and hath no days, 
or hours, or minutes of rest ; always laying about it 
to enlarge itself, and like spring water, which the more 
it issueth out, the more it may. 

It is a good way, upon any particular breach of 
our inward peace, presently to have recourse to that 
which breeds and foments all our disquiet. Lord ! 
what do I complain of this my unruly passion? I carry 
a nature about me subject to break out continually 
upon any occasion ; Lord ! strike at the root, and 
dry up the fountain in me. Thus David doth arise 
from the guilt of those two foul sins, of murder and 
adultery, Psalm li. to the sin of his nature, the root 


itself; as if he should say, Lord ! it is not these actual 
sins that defile me only ; but if I look back to my first 
conception, I was tainted in the spring of my nature. 
This is that which put David's soul so much out 
of frame ; for from whence was this contradiction ? 
and whence was this contradiction so unwearied, in 
making head again and again against the checks of the 
Spirit in him ? Whence was it that corruption would 
not be said nay? Whence were these sudden and 
unlooked for objections of the flesh? but from the 
remainder of old Adam in him, which like a Michal 
within us is either scoffing at the ways of God ; or as 
Job*s wife, fretting and thwarting the motions of God's 
Spirit in us; which prevails the more, because it is 
homebred in us : whereas holy motions are strangers 
to most of our souls. Corruption is loath that a new 
comer in should take so much upon him as to control : 
as the Sodomites thought much that Lot being a 
stranger should intermeddle amongst them. . Gen, xix. 
9. If God once leave us as he did Hezekiah to try 
what is in us, what should he find but darkness, rebel- 
hon, unruliness, doubtings, &c. in the best of us ? this 
flesh of ours hath principles against all God*s princi- 
ples, and laws against all God's laws, and reasons 
ao:ainst all God's reasons. Oh ! If we could but one 
whole hour seriously think of the impure issue of our 
hearts, it would bring us down upon our knees in hu- 
miliation before God. But we can never whilst we 
live, so thoroughly as we should, see into the depth 
of our deceitful hearts, nor yet be humbled enough 
for what we see ; for though we speak of it and con- 
fess it, yet we are not so sharpened against this cor- 
rupt flesh of ours, as we should. How should it hum- 
ble us, that the seeds of the vilest sin, even of the sin 

THE SOUL'S COKFLICT./^-^ -^ ,y - ^ i|k <P ^ T T 

against the Holy Ghost, is in us ? aim no thank to ^ v 

us that they break not out. It should humble us to , ^ V^ 
hear of any great enormous sin in another man, con- s^^^i^*"'^''^ 
sidering what our own nature would proceed unto if 
it were not restrained. We may see our own nature 
in them as face answering face ; if God should take 
his Spirit from us, there is enough in us to defile a 
whole world; and although we be ingrafted into Christ, 
yet we carry about us a relish of the old stock still. - P^^'^'^t 
David was a man of a good natural constitution ; and ^ ^" 

for grace, a man after God's own heart, and had got 
the better of himself in a great measure, and had 
learned to overcome himself in matter of revenge, as 
in Saul's case, 1 Sam, xxiv. 6 : yet now we see the 
vessel is shaken a little, and the dregs appear that 
were in the bottom before. Alas ! we know not our 
own hearts, till we plough with God's heifer, till his 
Spirit bringeth a light into our souls. It is good ta 
consider how this impure spring breaks out diversly^ 
in the divers conditions we are in ; there is no estate 
of life, nor no action we undertake, wherein it will 
not put forth itself to defile us : it is so full of poison 
that it taints whatsoever we do, both our natures, con- 
ditions, and actions. In a prosperous condition, like 
David, we think we shall never be moved, Psalm xxx. 
6. Under the Cross the soul is troubled, and drawn 
to murmur, and to be sullen, and sink down in dis- 
couragement, to be in a heat almost to blasphemy, 
to be weary of our callings, and to quarrel with every 
thing in our way. See the folly and fury of most 
men in this, for us silly worms to contradict the great 
God : and to whose peril is it ? Is it not our own ? 
let us gather ourselves with all our wit and strength 
together. Alas ! what can we do but provoke him, and 

^0 THE soul's conflict. 

get more stripes ? we may be sure he will deal with 
us, as we deal with our children, if they be froward 
and unquiet for lesser matters, we will make them cry 
and be sullen for something : refractory, stubborn 
horses are the more spurred, and yet shake not off 
the rider. 


Of oriyiiial right eousnesSynatuj-al corruption, Satan s 
joining with it, and our duty thereupon. 

§ I. T) UT here mark a plot of spiritual treason ; 
X3 Satan joining with our corruption, setteth 
the wit on work to persuade the soul, that this in- 
ward rebellion is not so bad, because it is natural to 
us, as a condition of nature rising out of the first 
principles in our creation, and was curbed in by the 
bridle of original righteousness, which they would 
have accessary and supernatural, and therefore allege 
that concupiscence is less odious and more excusable 
in us, and so no great danger in yielding and betraying 
our souls unto it, and by that means persuading us, 
that that which is our deadhest enemy, hath no harm 
in it, nor meaneth any to us. 

This rebeUion of lusts against the understanding is 
not natural, as our nature came out of God's hands 
at the first : Gen, i. For this being evil and the 
cause of evil, could not come from God who is good, 
and the cause of all good, and nothing but good : 
who upon the creation of all things pronounced them 
good, and after the creation of man pronounced of 
all things that they were very good. Now that which 
is ill and. very ill, cannot be seated at the same time 
in that which is good and iwry good: God created 

THE soul's conflict. 91 

man at the first, right, he of himself 50 w^ A ^ out many 
inventions. As God beautified the heaven with stars, 
and decked the earth with variety of plants, and herbs, 
and flowers ; so he adorned man his prime creature 
here below, with all those endowments that were fit 
for a happy condition, and original righteousness was 
fit and due to an original and happy condition. 
Therefore as the angels were created with all angehcal 
perfections, and as our bodies were created in an ab- 
solute temper of all the humours ; so the soul was 
created in that sweet harmony wherein there was no 
discord, as an instrument in tune fit to be moved to 
any duty ; as a clean neat glass the soul represented 
God's image and holiness. 

§ II. Therefore it is so far, that concupiscence 
should be natural, that the contrary to it, namely^ 
righteousness, wherein Adam was created, was natural 
to him ; though it were planted in man's nature by 
God, and so in regard of the cause of it, was super- 
natural, yet because it was agreeable to that happy 
condition, without which he could not subsist, in that 
respect it w^as natural, and should have been derived, 
if he had stood, together with his nature, to his pos- 
terity. As heat in the air, though it hath its first 
impression from the heat of the sun, yet is natural, 
because it agreeth to the nature of that element : 
though man be compounded of a spiritual and earthly 
substance, yet it is natural that the baser earthly 
part should be subject to the superior, because where 
there is different degrees of worthiness, it is fit there 
should be a subordination of the meaner to that which 
is in order higher. The body naturally desires food 
and bodily contentments, yet in a man endued with 


reason this desire is governed so as it becomes not 
inordinate : a beast sins not in its appetite, because 
it hath no power above to order it. A man that 
hves in a sohtary place far remote from company, may 
take his Hberty to Hve as it pleaseth him ; but if he 
comes to hve under the government of some well or- 
dered city, then he is bound to submit to the laws, 
and customs of that city, under penalty, upon any 
breach of order : so the risings of the soul, howsoever 
in other creatures they are not blamable, having no 
commander in themselves, above them, yet in man 
they are to be ordered by reason and judgment. 

Therefore it cannot be, that concupiscence should 
be natural, in regard of the state of creation ; it was 
Adam's sin which had many sins in the womb of it, 
that brought this disorder upon the soul ; Adam's 
person first corrupted our nature, and nature being 
corrupted, corrupts our persons, and our persons 
being corrupted, increase the corruption of our na- 
ture, by custom of sinning, which is another nature 
in us ; as a stream the farther it runs from the spring 
head, the more it enlargeth its channel, by the run- 
ning of lesser rivers into it, until it empties itself into 
the sea ; so corruption till it be overpowered by grace, 
swelleth bigger and bigger, so that though this dis- 
order was not natural, in regard of the first creation, 
yet since the fall it is become natural, even as we call 
that which is common to the whole kind, and propa- 
gated from parents to their children, to be natural ; 
so that it is both natural and against nature, natural 
now, but against nature in its first perfection. 
''And because corruption is natural to us, therefore 
1. We delight in it, whence it comes to pass, that our 
souls are carried along in an easy current, to the 
committing of any sin without opposition. 2. Be- 


cause it is natural, therefore it is unwearied and rest- 
less, as light bodies are not wearied in their motion 
upwards, nor heavy bodies in their motion down- 
wards, nor a stream in its running to the sea, because 
it is natural : hence it is that the old man is never 
tired in the works of the flesh ; nor never drawn dry. 
When men cannot act sin, yet they will love sin, and 
act it over again by pleasing thoughts of it, and by 
sinful speculation suck out the delight of sin; and 
are grieved, not for their sin, but because they want 
strength and opportunity to commit it ; if sin would 
not leave them, they would never leave sin. This 
corruption of our nature is not wrought in us by rea- 
son and persuasions, for then it might be satisfied 
with reasons, but it is in us by way of a natural inch- 
nation, as iron is carried to the loadstone; and till 
our natures be altered, no reason will long prevail, 
but our sinful disposition, as a stream stopped for a 
little while, will break out with greater violence. 3. 
Being natural, it needs no help, as the earth needs no 
tillage to bring forth weeds. When our corrupt na- 
ture is carried contrary to that which is good, it is 
carried of itself. As when Satan lies or murders, it 
comes from his own cursed nature ; and though Sa- 
tan joineth with our corrupt nature, yet the prone - 
ness to sin, and the consent unto it, is of ourselves. , 

§ III. But how shall we know, that Satan joins with 
our nature, in those actions unto which nature itself 
is prone ? 

Then Satan adda his help, when our nature is car- 
ried more eagerly than ordinary to sin; as when a 
stream runs violently, we may know that there is not 
only the tide, but the wind that carrieth it. 

So in sudden and violent rebelhons, it is Satan that 


pusheth on nature left to itself of God. A stone 
falls downward by its own w^eight, but if it falls very 
swiftly, we know it is thrown down by an outward 
mover. Though there were no devil, yet our corrupt 
nature would act Satan's part against itself, it would 
have a supply of wickedness (as a serpent doth poi- 
son) from itself, it hath a spring to feed it. 

But that man whilst he lives here is not altogether 
excluded from hope of happiness, and hath a nature 
not so large and capable of sin as Satan's; where- 
upon he is not so obstinate in hating God, and work- 
ing mischief as he, &c. Otherwise there is for kind 
the same cursed disposition, and malice of nature 
against true goodness in man, which is in the devils 
and damned spirits themselves. 

It is no mitigation of sin, to plead it is natural, for 
natural diseases, as leprosies, that are derived from 
parents, are most dangerous, and least curable ; neither 
is this any excuse, for because as it is natural, so it 
is voluntary, not only in Adam, in whose loins we 
were, and therefore sinned ; but likewise in regard 
of ourselves, who are so far from stopping the course 
of sin either in ourselves or others, that we feed and 
strengthen it, or at least give more way to it, and 
provide less against it than we should, until we come 
under the government of grace : and by that means, 
we justify Adam's sin, and that corrupt estate that 
foUoweth upon it, and show, that if we had been in 
Adam's condition ourselves, we would have made that 
ill choice which he made. And though this corruption 
of our nature be necessary to us, yet it is no violent 
necessity from an outward cause, but a necessity that 
we willingly pull upon ourselves, and therefore ought 
the more to humble us ; for the more necessarily we 


sin, the more voluntarily, and the more voluntarily, 
the more necessarily ; the will putting itself volunta- 
rily into these fetters of sin. Necessity is no plea, 
when the will is the immediate cause of any action ; 
men's hearts tell them they might rule their desires if 
they would ; for tell a man of any dish which he 
liketh, that there is poison in it, and he will not 
meddle with it ; so tell him that death is. in that sin 
which he is about to commit, and he will abstain if 
he believe it be so ; if he believe it not, it is his vo- 
luntary unbehef and atheism. 

If the will would use that sovereignty it should, 
and could at the first, we should be altogether freed 
from this necessity. Men are not damned because 
they cannot do better, because they will but do no 
better ; if there were no will, there would be no hell ; 
for men willingly submit to the rule and law of sin, 
they plead for it, and like it so well, as they hate no- 
thing so much as that which any way withstandeth 
those lawless laws. 

Those that think it their happiness to do what they 
will, that they might be free, cross their own desires, 
for this is the way to make them most perfect slaves. 
When our will is the next immediate cause of sin, 
and our consciences bear witness to us that it is so ; 
then conscience is ready to take God^s part in ac- 
cusing ourselves : our consciences tell us to our faces 
that we might do more than we do to hinder sin, and 
that when we sin, it is not through weakness, but out 
of the wickedness of our nature. 

Our consciences tell us that we sin not only wil- 
lingly, but often with delight (so far forth as we are 
not subdued by grace, or awed by something above 
us), and that we esteem any restraint to be our misery. 

96 THE soul's conflict. 

And where by grace the will is strengthened, so that 
it yields not a full consent, yet a gracious soul is 
humbled even for the sudden risings of corruption 
that prevent deliberation. As here David, though 
he withstood the risings of his heart, yet he was trou- 
bled, that he had so vile a heart that v/ould rise up 
against God, and therefore takes it down. Who is 
there that hath not cause to be humbled, not only 
for his corruption, but that he doth not resist with 
that strength, nor labour to prevent it with that dili- 
gence which his heart tells him he might ? 

We cannot have too deep apprehensions of this 
breeding sin, the mother and nurse of all abomina- 
tions ; for the more we consider the height, the depth, 
the breadth, and length of it, the more shall we be 
humbled in ourselves, and magnify the height, the 
depth, the breadth, and the length of God's mercy 
in Christ, Eph. iii. 18. The favourers of nature are 
always the enemies of grace ; this which some think 
and speak so weakly and faintly of, is a worse enemy 
to us than the devil himself; a more near, a more 
restless, a more traitorous enemy, for by intelligence 
with it the devil doth us all the hurt he doth, and by 
it maintains forts in us against goodness. This is that 
which either by discouragement or contrariety hinders 
us from good : or else by deadness, tediousness, dis- 
tractions, or corrupt aims hinders us in doing good : 
this putteth us on to evil, and abuseth what is good 
in us, or from us, to cover or colour sin ; and fur- 
nishes us with reasons either to maintain what is evil, 
or shifts to translate it upon false causes, or fences 
to arm us against whatsoever shall oppose us in our 
wicked ways : though it neither can nor will be good, 
yet it would be thought to be so by others, and en- 


forces a conceit upon itself that it is good. It impri- 
• sons and keeps down all light that may discover it, 
both within itself, and without itself, if it lie in its 
power : it flatters itself, and would have all the world 
flatter it too, which if it doth not, it frets ; especially 
if it be once discovered and crossed : hence comes 
all the plotting against goodness, that sin may reign 
without control. Is it not a lamentable case that 
man, who out of the very principles of nature cannot 
but desire happiness and abhor misery, yet should be 
in love with eternal misery in the causes of it, and 
abhor happiness in the ways that lead unto it ? This 
showeth us what a wonderful deordination and dis- 
order is brought upon man's nature ; for every other 
creature is naturally carried to that which is helpful 
unto it, and shunneth that which is any way hurtful 
and offensive ; only man is in love with his own bane, 
and lights for those lusts that fight against his soul. 

§ IV. Our duty is, 1. To labour to see this sinful 
disposition of ours, not only as it is discovered in the 
Scriptures, but as it discovers itself in our own hearts; 
this must be done by the light and teaching of God's 
Spirit, who knows us and all the turnings and wind- 
ings and byways of our souls, better than we know 
ourselves. We must see it as the most odious and 
loathsome thing in the world, making our natures 
contrary to God's pure nature, and of all other duties 
making us most indisposed to spiritual duties, where- 
in we should have nearest communion with God ; be- 
cause it seizeth on the very spirits of our minds. 

2. We should look upon it as worse than any of 
those filthy streams that come from it, nay, than all 
the impure issues of our lives together ; there is more 


98 THE soul's CO^^FLICT. 

fire in the furnace than in the sparkles ; there is more 
poison in the root than in all the branches ; for if the 
stream were stopped, and the branches cut off, and 
the sparkles quenched, yet there would be a perpetual 
supply ; as in good things, the cause is better than 
the effect ; so in ill things the cause is worse. Every 
fruit should make this poisonful root more hateful to 
us, and the root should make us hate the fruit more, 
as coming from so bad a root, as being worse in the 
cause, than in itself; the affection is worse than the 
action, which may be forced or counterfeited. We 
cry out upon particular sins, but are not humbled as 
we should be for our impure dispositions ; without the 
sight of which there can be no sound repentance aris- 
ing from the deep and thorough consideration of sin ; 
no desire to be new moulded, without which we can 
never enter into so holy a place as heaven ; no self- 
denial till we see the best things in us are enmity 
against God ; no high prizing of Christ, without whom 
our natures, our persons, and our actions are abomi- 
nable in God's sight ; nor any solid peace settled in 
the soul ; which peace ariseth not from the ignorance 
of our corruption, or compounding with it, but from 
sight and hatred of it, and strength against it. 

3. Consider the spiritualness and large extent of 
the law of God, together with the curse annexed, 
which forbids not only particular sins, but all the 
kinds, degrees, occasions, and furtherances of sin in 
the whole breadth and depth of it, and our very nature 
itself so far as it is corrupted ; for want of which we 
see many alive without the law, Rom. vii. 2. jovial 
and merry from ignorance of their misery, who if they 
did but once see their natures and lives in that glass, 
it would take away that liveliness and courage from 
them, and make them vile in their own eyes; men 


usually look themselves in the laws of the state 
wherein they live, and think themselves good enough, 
if they are free from the danger of penal statutes ; this 
glass discovers only foul spots, gross scandals, and 
breakings out ; or else they judge of themselves by 
parts of nature, or common grace, or by outward 
conformity to religion, or else by that light they have 
to guide themselves in the affairs of this life, by their 
fair and civil carriage, &c. and thereupon live and 
die without any sense of the power of godliness, which 
begins in the right knowledge of ourselves, and ends 
in the right' knowledge of God. The spiritualness and 
purity of the law should teach us to consider the pu- 
rity and holiness of God ; the bringing of our souls 
into whose presence will make us to abhor ourselves, 
with Job, in dust and ashes, Job xlii. 6. ; contraries 
are best seen by setting one near the other; whilst 
we look only on ourselves, and upon others amongst 
whom we live, we think ourselves to be somebody. 
It is an evidence of some sincerity wrought in the soul, 
not to shun that light which may let us see the foul 
corners of our hearts and lives. 

4. The consideration of this hkewise should enforce 
us to carry a double guard over our souls : David was 
very watchful, yet we see here he was surprized un- 
awares by the sudden rebellion of his heart ; we should 
observe our hearts as governors do rebels and muti- 
nous persons : observation awes the heart ; we see to 
what an access sin groweth in those that deny them- 
selves nothing, nor will be denied in any thing ; who 
if they may do what they will, will do what they may ; 
who turn liberty into hcense, and make all their abi- 
lities and advantages to do good, contributary to the 
commands of overruling and unruly lusts. 

Were it not that God partly by his power suppress- 


100 THE soul's conflict. 

eth, and partly by his grace subdueth the disorders 
of man's nature for the good of society, and the ga- 
thering of a Church upon earth ; corruption would 
swell to that excess, that it would overturn and con- 
found all things together with itself. Although there 
be a common corruption that cleaves to the nature 
of all men in general, as men (as distrust in God, 
self-love, a carnal and worldly disposition, &c.) yet 
God so ordereth it, that in some there is an ebb and 
decrease, in others (God justly leaving them to them- 
selves) a flow and increase of sinfulness, even beyond 
the bounds of ordinary corruption, whereby they be- 
come worse than themselves, either like beasts in sen- 
suality, or like devils in spiritual wickedness ; though 
all be blind in spiritual things, yet some are more 
blinded : though all be hard-hearted, yet some are 
more hardened : though all be corrupt in evil courses, 
yet some are more corrupted : and sink deeper into 
rebellion than others. 

Sometimes God suffers this corruption to break out 
in civil m.en, yea, even in his own children, that they 
may know themselves the better, and because some- 
times corruption is weakened not only by smothering, 
but by having a vent, whereupon grace stirs up in the 
soul a fresh hatred and revenge against it ; and lets 
us see a necessity of having whole Christ, not only 
to pardon sin, but to purge and cleanse our sinful 
natures. But yet that which is ill in itself, must not 
be done for the good that comes by it by accident ; 
this must be a comfort after our surprisals, not an 
encouragement before. 

5. And because the Divine nature, wrought in us 
by divine truth, together with the Spirit of God, *is 
the only counter-poison against all sin, and whatsoever 


is contrary to God in us, therefore we should labour 
that the truth of God may be grafted in our hearts, 
that so all the powers of our souls may relish of it, 
that there may be a sweet agreement betwixt the soul 
and all things that are spiritual, that truth being en- 
grafted in our hearts, we may be engrafted into Christ, 
and grow up in him, ^nd put him on more and more, 
and be changed into his likeness. Nothing in heaven 
or earth will work out corruption, and change our dis- 
positions, but the Spirit of Christ, clothing divine 
truths, with a divine power to this purpose. 

6. When corruption rises, pray it down, as Saint 
Paul did, and to strengthen thy prayer, claim the 
promise of the new covenant, that God would circum- 
cise our hearts, and wash us with cleamvater, that 
he would write his law in our hearts, and give us 
his holy Spirit when we beg it ; and look upon Christ 
as a ^wbXic fountain open for Judah and Jerusalem 
to ivash in. Herein consists our comfort, 1. that 
Christ hath all fulness for us, and that our nature is 
perfect in him; 2. That Christ in our nature hath 
satisfied divine justice, not only for the sin of our lives, 
but for the sin of our nature. And, 3. that he will 
never give over until by his Spirit he hath made our 
nature holy and pure as his own, till he hath taken 
away not only the reign, but the very life and being 
of sin out of our hearts. 4. That to this end he leaves 
his Spirit and truth in the church to the end of the 
world, that the seed of the Spirit may subdue the seed 
of the serpent in us, and that the Spirit may be a never 
failing spring of all holy thoughts, desires, and en- 
deavours in us, and dry up the contrary issue and 
spiring of corrupt nature. 

And Christians must remember when they are much 

102 THE soul's CONFLICr. 

annoyed with their corruptions, that it is not their 
particular case alone, but the condition of all God's 
people, lest they be discouraged by looking on the 
ugly deformed visage of old Adam : which afFrighteth 
some so far, that it makes them think, No mans na- 
ture is so vile as theirs ; which were well if it tended 
to humihation only ; but Satan often abuseth it to- 
wards discouragement and desperation. Many out 
of a misconceit think that corruption is greatest when 
they feel it most, whereas indeed, the less we see 
it and lament it, the more it is. Sighs and groans of 
the soul are like the pores of the body, out of whicli 
in diseased persons sick humours break forth and so 
become less. The more we see and grieve for pride, 
which is an immediate issue of our corrupted nature, 
the less it is, because we see it by a contrary grace ; the 
more sight the more hatred, the more hatred of sin, 
the more love of grace, and the more love the more life, 
which the more hvely it is, the more it is sensible of the 
contrary : upon every discovery and conflict corruption 
loses some ground, and grace gains upon it. 


Of Imagination, Sin of ity and Remedies for it, 

§ 1. A ND amongst all the facuUies of the soul most 
JTjl, of the disquiet and unnecessary trouble of 
our lives arises from the vanity and ill government of 
that power of the soul which we call imagination and 
opinion, bordering between the senses and our under- 
standing ; which is nothing else but a shallow appre- 
hension of good or evil taken from the senses : now 
because outward good or evil things agree or disagree 
to the senses, and the life of sense is in us before the 


use of reason, and the delights of sense are present, 
and pleasing, and suitable to our natures : thereupon 
the imagination setteth a great price upon sensible 
good things ; and the judgment itself since the fall, 
until it hath a higher light and strength, yieldeth to 
our imagination ; hence it comes to pass that the best 
things, if they be attended with sensible inconveni- 
ences, as want, disgrace in the world, and such like, 
are misjudged for evil things ; and the very worst 
things, if they be attended with respect in the world, 
and sensible contentments, are imagined to be the 
greatest good : which appears not so much in men's 
words (because they are ashamed to discover their 
hidden folly and atheism) but the Hves of people 
speak as much, in that particular choice which they 
make. Many there are who think it not only a vain 
but a dangerous thing to serve God, and a base thing 
to be awed with religious respects ; they count the 
ways that God's people take, no better than madness, 
and that course which God takes in bringing men to 
heaven by a plain publishing of heavenly truths, to 
be nothing but foolishness, and those people that re- 
gard it, are esteemed, as the Pharisees esteemed them 
that heard Christ, ignorant, base, and despicable per- 
sons ; hence arise all those false prejudices against the 
ways of holiness, as they in the Acts were shy in en- 
tertaining the truth, because it was a way every where 
spoken against, Acts xxviii. 22. The doctrine of the 
cross hath the cross always following it, which ima- 
gination counteth the most odious and bitter thing in 
the world. 

This imagination of ours is become the seat of va- 
nity, and thereupon of vexation to us, because it ap- 
prehends a greater happiness in outward good things 

104 t THE soul's conflict. 

than there is, and a greater misery in outward evil 
things than indeed there is ; and when experience 
shows us that there is not that good in those things 
which we imagine to be, but contrarily, we find much 
evil in them which we never expected, hereupon the 
soul cannot but be troubled. The life of many men, 
and those not the meanest, is almost nothing else but 
a fancy ; that which chiefly sets their wits a work, and 
takes up most of their time, is how to please their 
own imagination, which setteth up an excellency with- 
in itself, in comparison of which it despiseth all true 
excellency, and those things that are of most neces- 
sary consequence indeed. Hence springs ambition, 
and the vein of being great in the world; hence 
comes an unmeasurable desire of abounding in those 
things which the world esteems highly of, there is in 
us naturally a competition and desire of being equal 
or above others, in that which is generally thought to 
make us happy and esteemed amongst men ; if we be 
not the only men, yet we will be somebody in the 
world, something we will have to be highly esteemed 
for, wherein if we be crossed, we count it the great- 
est misery that can befall us. 

And which is worse, a corrupt desire of being great 
in the opinion of others, creeps into the profession of 
religion, if we live in those places wherein it brings 
credit or gain ; men will sacrifice their very lives for 
vain glory : it is an evidence a man lives more to 
opinion and reputation of others, than to conscience, 
when his grief is more for being disappointed of that 
approbation which he expects from men, than for his 
miscarriage towards God. It mars all in religion, 
when we go about heavenly things with earthly affec- 
tions, and seek not Christ in Christ, but the world. 

THE soul's conflict. 105 

What is popery but an artificial frame of man's brain 
to please men's imaginations by outward state and 
pomp of ceremonies, like that golden image of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, wherein he pleased himself so that to 
have uniformity in worshipping the same, he com- 
pelled all under pain of death to fall down before it, 
Dan, iii. 6; this makes superstitious persons always 
cruel, because superstitious devices are the brats of 
our own imagination, which we strive for more than 
for the purity of God's worship : hence it is likewise 
that superstitious persons are restless, as the woman 
of Samaria, in their own spirits, as having no bottom 
but fancy instead of faith. 

^ II. Now the reason why imagination works so 
upon the soul, is, because it stirs up the affections an- 
swerable to the good or ill which it apprehends, and 
our affections stir the humours of the body, so that 
oftentimes both our souls and bodies are troubled 

Things work upon the soul in this order : 1. Some 
object is presented. 2. Then it is apprehended by 
imagination as good and pleasing, or as evil and hurt- 
ful. 3. If good, the desire is carried to it with de- 
light : if evil, it is rejected with distaste, and so our 
affections are stirred up suitably to our apprehension 
of the object. 4. Affections stir up the spirits. 5. 
The spirits raise the humours, and so the whole man 
becomes moved and oftentimes distempered ; this fall- 
eth out by reason of the sympathy between the soul 
and body, whereby what ofFendeth one redoundeth to 
the hurt of the other. 

And we see conceived troubles have the same effect 
upon us, as true. Jacob was as much troubled with 

106 THE soul's conflict. 

the imagination of his son's death, as if he had been 
dead indeed ; imagination , though it be an empty 
windy thing, yet it hath real effects. Superstitious 
persons are as much troubled for neglecting any vo- 
luntary service of man's invention, as if they had of- 
fended against the direct commandment of God : thus 
superstition breeds false fears, and false fear brings 
true vexation ; it transforms God to an idol, imagining 
him to be pleased with whatsoever pleases ourselves, 
when as we take it ill that those who are under us 
should take direction from themselves, and not from 
us, in that which may content us, superstition is very 
busy, but all in vain, in vain they worship me, Matt. 
XV. 9, saith God ; and how can it choose but vex 
and disquiet men, when they shall take a great deal 
of pains in xmin, and which is worse, to displease most 
in that wherein they think to please most. God 
blasteth all devised service with one demand. Who 
required these things at your hands? Isaiah i. 12. 
It were better for us to ask ourselves this question 
before-hand, Who required this ? Why do we trou- 
ble ourselves about that which we shall have no 
thank for ? We should not bring God down to our 
own imaginations, but raise our imaginations up to 

Now imagination hurteth us, 1. By false represen- 
tations. 2. By preventing reason, and so usurping a 
censure of things, before our judgments try them, 
whereas the office of imagination is to minister mat- 
ter to our understanding to work upon, and not to 
lead it, much less mislead it in any thing. 3. By 
forging matter out of itself without ground, the ima- 
ginary grievances of our lives are more than the real . 
4. As it is an ill instrument of the understanding to 
devise vanity and mischief. 


§ III. The way to cure this malady in us, is, 1. To 
labour to bring these risings of our souls into the obe- 
dience of God's truth and Spirit ; for imagination of 
itself, if ungoverned, is a wild and a ranging thing ^ 
2 Cor. X. 5 ; it wrongs not only the frame of God's 
work in us, setting the baser part of a man above the 
higher, but it wrongs hkewise the work of God in the 
creatures and every thing else, for it shapes things as 
itself pleaseth, it maketh evil good, if it pleaseth the 
senses; and good evil, if it be dangerous and dis- 
tasteful to the outward man ; which cannot but breed 
an unquiet and an unsettled soul. As if it were a 
god, it can tell good and evil at its pleasure, it sets up 
and pulls down the price of what it listeth : by reason 
of the distemper of imagination, the life of many is 
little else but a dream ; many good men are in a long 
dream of misery, and many bad men in as long a 
dream of happiness, till the time of awaking come, 
and all because they are too much led by appear- 
ances ; and as in a dream men are deluded with false 
joys, and false fears ; so here, which cannot but breed 
an unquiet and an unsettled soul ; therefore it is neces- 
sary that God by his word and Spirit should erect a 
government in our hearts to captivate and order this 
licentious faculty. 

2. Likewise it is good to present real things to the 
soul, as the true riches, and true misery of a Chris- 
tian, the true honour and dishonour, true beauty and 
deformity, the true nobleness and debasement of the 
soul; whatever is in the world, are but shadows of 
things in comparison of those true realities which reli- 
gion affords ; and why should we vex ourselves about 
a vain shadow ? Psalm xxxix. 6. 

The Holy Ghost to prevent further mischief by these 
outward things, gives a dangerous report of them, 

108 THE soul's conflict. 

calling them vanity, unrighteous mammon, Luke 
xvi. 9, uncertain riches, thorns, yea nothiiig ; be- 
cause though they be not so in themselves, yet, our 
imagination overvaluing them, they prove so to us 
upon trial : now knowledge that is bought by trial is 
often dear bought, and therefore God would have us 
prevent this by a right conceit of things beforehand, 
lest trusting to vanity we vanish ourselves, and trust- 
ing to nothing we become nothing ourselves, and 
which is worse, worse than nothing. 

3. Oppose serious consideration against vain ima- 
gination, and because our imagination is prone to 
raise false objects, and thereby false conceits, and dis- 
courses in us ; our best way herein is to propound 
true objects of the mind to work upon; as, 1. To 
consider the greatness and goodness of Almighty God, 
and his love to us in Christ. 2. The joys of heaven, 
and the torments of hell. 3. The last and strict day 
of account. 4. The vanity of all earthly things. 5. 
The uncertainty of our hves, &c. From the medita- 
tion of these truths, the soul will be prepared to have 
right conceits of things, and to discourse upon true 
grounds of them, and think with thyself, that if these 
things be so indeed, then I must frame my hfe suita- 
ble to these principles ; hence arise true affections in 
the soul, true fear of God, true love and desire after 
the best things, &c. The way to expel wind out 
of our bodies, is to take some wholesome nourish- 
ment, and the way to expel windy fancies from the 
soul, is to feed upon serious truths. 

4. Moreover, to the well ordering of this unnily 
faculty, it is necessary that our nature itself should 
be changed ; for as men are, so they imagine, as the 
treasure of the heart is, Matt. xii. 35, such is that 

THE soul's conflict. 109 

which comes from it ; an evil heart cannot think well : 
before the heart be changed our judgment is depraved 
in regard of our last end, we seek our happiness where 
it is not to be found ; wickedness comes from the 
wicked, 1 Sam. xxiv. 13, as the proverb is. If we 
had as large and as quick apprehensions as Satan 
himself, yet if the relish of our will and affections be 
not changed, they will set the imagination awork, to 
devise satisfaction to themselves. For there is a mu- 
tual working and reflux betwixt the will and the ima- 
gination ; the imagination stirs up the will, and as 
the will is affected, so imagination worketh. 

When the Law of God by the Spirit is so written 
in our hearts, that the law and our hearts become 
ao-reeable one to the other, then the soul is inclined 
and made pliable to every good thought : when the 
heart is once taught of God to love, it is the nature 
of this sweet affection, as the Apostle saith, to think 
no evil, 1 Cor. xiii. 5, either of God or man, and not 
only so, but it carries the bent of the whole soul with 
it to good, so that we love God not only with all our 
heart, but loith all our mind, Matt. xxii. 37, that is, 
both with our understanding and imagination. Love 
is an affection full of inventions, and sets the wit 
awork to devise good things ; therefore our chief care 
should be, that our hearts may be circumcised and 
purified so, as they may be filled with the love of God, 
and then we shall find this duty not only easy but 
dehghtful unto us. The Prophet healed the waters 
by casting salt into the spring, 2 Kings ii. 20, so the 
seasoning of the spring of our actions seasons all. 
And indeed what can be expected from man whilst he 
is vanity but vain imaginations ? What can we look for 
from a viper but poison ? Isaiah lix. 5. A man na- 

110 THE soul's conflict. 

turally is either weaving spiders' luebs, or hatching 
cockatrices' eggs, that is, his heart is exercised either 
in vanity or mischief, for not only the frame of the 
heart, but what the heart frameth is evil continually. 
A wicked man that is besotted with false conceits, will 
admit of no good thoughts to enter, Gen. vi. 5. 

5. Even when we are good and devise good things, 
yet there is still some sickness of fancy remaining in 
the best of us, whereby we work trouble to ourselves, 
and therefore it is necessary we should labour to re- 
strain and limit our fancy, and stop these waters at 
the beginning, giving no not the least way thereunto. 
If it begins to grow wanton, tame the wildness of it 
by fastening it to the cross of Christ, whom we have 
pierced with our sins, Zach. xii. 10, and amongst 
other, with these sins of our spirits, who hath redeemed 
us from our vain thoughts and conversations, 1 Pet. 
i. 18, set before it the consideration of the wrath of 
God, of death, and judgment, and the woful estate 
of the damned, &c. and take it not off till thy heart 
be taken off from straying from God ; when it begins 
once to run out to impertinencies, confine it to some 
certain thing, and then upon examination we shall 
find it bring home some honey with it ; otherwise it 
will bring us nothing but a sting from the bitter re- 
membrance of our former mispent thoughts and time, 
which we should redeem and fill up, with things that 
most belong to our peace, Luke xix. 47. Idleness 
is the hour of temptation, wherein Satan joins with 
our imagination, and sets it about his own work, to 
grind his grease, for the soul as a mill either grinds 
that which is put into it, or else works upon itself. 
Imagination is the first wheel of the soul, and if that 
move amiss, it stirs all the inferior wheels amiss with 

THE soul's conflict. Ill 

it ; it stirs itself, and other powers of the soul are stirred 
by its motion ; and therefore the well ordering of this 
is of the greater consequence ; for as the imagination 
conceiveth, so usually the judgment concludeth, the 
will chooseth, the affections are carried, and the mem- 
bers execute. 

If it break loose (as it will soon run riot) yet give no 
consent of the will to it ; though it hath defiled the 
memory, yet let it not defile the will ; though it be the 
first horn of the soul, yet let it not, as Reuben, ascend 
unto the father's bed^ that is, our will, and defile that 
which should be kept pure for the Spirit of Christ ; 
resolve to act nothing upon it, but cross it before it 
moves to the execution and practice of any thing : as 
in sickness, many times we imagine (by reason of the . 
corruption of our taste) physic to be ill for us, and 
those meats which nourish the disease to be good, 
yet care of health makes us cross our own conceits, 
and take that which fancy abhors : so if we would 
preserve sound spirits, we must conclude against 
groundless imagination, and resolve that whatsoever 
it suggests cannot be so, because it crosses the grounds 
both of religion and reason : and when we find ima- 
gination to deceive us in sensible things, as melan- 
choly persons are subject to mistake, we may well 
gather, that it will much more deceive us in our spi- 
ritual conditiQn ; and indeed such is the incoherence, 
impertinency, and unreasonableness of imagination, 
that men are oft ashamed and angry with themselves 
afterwards for giving the least way to such thoughts ; 
and it is good to chastise the soul for the same, that 
it may be more wary for time to come ; whilst men 
are led with imagination, they work not according to 
right rules prescribed to men, but as other baser 

112 THE soul's conflict. 

creatures, in whom phantasy is the chief ruHng power, 
and therefore those whose will is guided by their fan- 
cies hve more hke beasts than men. 

We allow a horse to prance and skip in a pasture, 
which if he doth when he is once backed by the rider, 
we count him an unruly and an unbroken jade : so 
howsoever in other creatures we allow liberty of fancy, 
yet we allow it not in man to frisk and rove at its 
pleasure, because in him it is to be bridled with reason. 

6. Especially take heed of those cursed imagina- 
tions out of which, as of mother roots, others spring 
forth ; as questioning God's providence, and care of his 
children, his justice, his disregarding of what is done 
here below, &c. thoughts of putting off our amend- 
ment for time to come, and so blessing ourselves in 
any evil way ; thoughts against the necessity of exact 
and circumspect lualking with God, &c. Eph, v. 15. 
When these and such hke principles of Satan's and the 

flesh's divinity take place in our hearts, they block 
up the soul against the entrance of soul-saving truths, 
and taint our whole conversation, which is either good 
or evil, as the principles are by which we are guided 
and as our imagination is, which lets in all to the soul.: 
The Jews in Jeremiah's time were forestalled with 
vain imaginations against sound repentance, and 
therefore his counsel is, wash thine heart, Jerusa- 
lem, how long shall vain thoughts lodge within thee ? 
Jer. iv. 14. 

7. Fancy will the better be kept within its due 
bounds, if we consider the principal use thereof; sense 
and imagination is properly to judge what is comfort- 
able or uncomfortable, what is pleasing or displeasing 
to the outward man, not what is morally or spiritually 
good or ill, and thus far by the laws of nature and 


civility we are bound to give fancy contentment both 
in ourselves and others, as not to speak or do any 
thing uncomely, which may occasion a loathing or 
distaste in our converse with men : and it is a matter 
of conscience to make our lives as comfortable as may 
be ; as we are bound to love, so we are bound to use 
all helps that may make us lovely, and endear us into 
tlie good affections of others : as we are bound to 
give no offence to the conscience of another, so to no 
power or faculty either of the outward or inward man 
of another : some are taken off in their affection by a 
fancy, whereof they can give but little reason ; and 
some are more careless in giving offence in this kind, 
tlian stands with that Christian circumspection and 
mutual respect which we owe one to another; the 
Apostle's rule is of large extent. Whatsoever things are 
not only time, and honest, and just, but whatsoever 
things are lovely, and of good report, &c. think of 
these things, Phil. iv. 8. Yet our main care should 
be to manifest ourselves rather to men's consciences 
than to their imaginations. 

8. It should be our wisdom likewise to place our- 
selves in the best conveniency of all outward helps 
which may have a kind working upon our fancy; 
and to take heed of the contrary, as time, place, and 
objects, &c. There be good hours and good messen- 
gers of God's sending, golden opportunities wherein 
God uses to give a meeting to his children, and breathes 
good thoughts into them. Even the wisest and holi- 
est men, as David and Solomon, &c., had no further 
safety than they were careful of well-using all good 
advantages, and sequestering themselves from such 
objects as had a working power upon them ; by suf- 
fering their souls to be led by their fancies, and their 

114 THE soul's COIUFLICT. 

hearts to run after their eyes, they betrayed and robbed 
themselves of much grace and comfort, thereupon So- 
lomon cries out with grief and shame from his own 
experience. Vanity of vanities, &c., Eccles. i. 2. 
Fancy will take fire before we be aware. Little things 
are seeds of great matters ; Job knew this, and there- 
fore made a covenant with his eyes, Job xxxi. 1 : 
but a fool's eyes are in the corners of the earth, 
saith Solomon, Prov, xvii. 24. 

Sometimes the ministering of some excellent thought 
from what we hear or see, proves a great advantage of 
spiritual good to the soul : whilst Saint Austin out of 
curiosity delighted to hear the eloquence of Saint Am- 
brose, he was taken with the matter itself, sweetly 
sliding together with the words into his heart. Of 
later times, whilst Galeaceus Caracciolus an Italian 
marquis, and nephew to Pope Paul V. was hearing 
Peter Martyr reading upon 1 Corinthians, and show- 
ing the deceivableness of man's judgment in spiritual 
things, and the efficacy of divine truth in those that 
belong unto God, and further using a similitude to this 
purpose; '* If a man be walking afar off, and see 
people dancing together, and hear no noise of the 
music, he judges them fools and out of their wits ; but 
when he comes nearer and hears the music, and sees 
that every motion is exactly done by art ; now he 
changes his mind, and is so taken up with the sweet 
agreement of the gesture, and the music, that he is 
not only delighted therewith, but desirous to join him- 
self in the number : so it falls out, saith he, with 
men; whilst they look upon the outward carriage 
and conversation of God's people, and see it dif- 
fering from others, they think them fools ; but when 
they look more narrowly into their courses, and see a 


gracious harmony betwixt their lives and the Word 
of God, then they begin to be in love with the beauty 
of holiness^ and join in conformity of holy obedience 
with those they scorned before/* This similitude 
wrought so with this nobleman, that he began from 
that time forward to set his mind to the study of hea- 
venly things. 

One seasonable truth falling upon a prepared heart, 
hath oftentimes a sweet and strong operation ; Luther 
confesseth that having heard a grave divine Staupi- 
cius say, that that is kind repentance which begins 
from the love of God, ever after that time the prac- 
tice of repentance was sweeter to him. This speech 
of his likewise took well with Luther, that in doubts 
of predestination we should begin from the wounds 
of Christ, that is, from the sense of God's love to us 
in Christ, we should arise to the grace given us in 
election before the world was, 2 Tim. i. 9. 

The putting of lively colours upon common truths 
hath oft so strong working both upon the fancy, and 
our will and affections : the spirit is refreshed with 
fresh things, or old truths refreshed ; this made the 
preacher seek to find out pleasing and acceptable 
words, Eccl. xii. 10 ; and our Saviour Christ's man- 
ner of teaching was by a lively representation to men's 
fancies, to teach them heavenly truths in an earthly 
sensible manner ; and indeed what do we see or hear 
but will yield matter to a holy heart to raise itself 
higher ? 

We should make our fancy serviceable to us in spi- 
ritual things, and take advantage by any pleasure, 
or profit, or honour which it presents our thoughts 
withal, to think thus with ourselves, What is this to 
the true honour, and to those enduring pleasures, &c. 


And seeing God hath condescended to represent hea- 
venly things to us under earthly terms, we should fol- 
low God's dealing herein : God represents heaven to 
us under the term of a banquet, and of a kingdom, 
&c. Luke X. 32 ; our union with Christ under the 
term of a marriage, yea, Christ himself, under the 
name of whatsoever is lovely or comfortable in hea- 
ven or earth. So the Lord sets out hell to us by 
whatsoever is terrible or tormenting. Here is a large 
field for our imagination to walk in, not only without 
hurt, but with a great deal of spiritual gain ; if the 
wrath of a king be as the roaring of a lion, what is 
the wrath of the King of kings ? If fire be so terri- 
ble, what is hell fire ? If a dark dungeon be so loath- 
some, what is that eternal dungeon of darkness ? If 
a feast be so pleasing, what is the continual feast of 
a good conscience ? Prov. xxv. 15. If the meeting 
of friends be so comfortable, what will our meeting 
together in heaven be ? The Scripture by such like 
terms would help our faith and fancy both at once ; 
a sanctified fancy will make every creature a ladder 
to heaven. And because childhood and youth are 
ages of fancy, therefore it is a good way to instil into 
the hearts of children betimes, the loving of good, 
and the shunning of evil, by such like representations 
as agree with their fancies, as to hate hell under the 
representation of fire and darkness, &c. Whilst the 
soul is joined with the body, it hath not only a neces- 
sary but a holy use of imagination, and of sensible 
things whereupon our imagination worketh ; what is 
the use of the sacraments, but to help our souls by 
our senses, and our faith by imagination ? as the soul 
receives much hurt from imagination, so it may have 
much good thereby. 


But yet it ought not to invent or devise what is 
good and true in religion, here fancy must yield to 
faith, and faith to divine revelation; the things we 
believe are such, as neither eye hath seen, nor ear 
^earc?, neither came into the heart of man, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 
by imagination stirred up from any thing which we 
have seen or heard ; they are above not only imagi- 
nation, but reason itself, in men and angels : but after 
God hath revealed spiritual truths, and faith hath ap- 
prehended them, then imagination hath use while the 
soul is joined with the body, to colour divine truths, 
and make lightsome what faith believes ; for instance, 
it doth not devise either heaven or hell, but when 
God hath revealed them to us ; our fancy hath a fit- 
ness of enlarging our conceits of them, even by re- 
semblance from things in nature, and that without 
danger ; because the joys of heaven, and the torments 
of hell are so great, that all the representations which 
nature affords us, fall short of them. 

Imagination hath likewise some use in religion, by 
putting cases to the soul, as when we are tempted to 
any unruly action, we should think with ourselves. 
What would I do if some holy grave person whom I 
much reverence should behold me ? Whereupon the 
soul may easily ascend higher ; God sees me, and my 
own conscience is ready to witness against me, &c. 

It helps us also in taking benefit by the example 
of other men ; good things are best learned by others 
expressing of them to our view ; the very sight often 
(nay, the very thought) of a good man doth good, as 
representing to our souls some good thing which we 
afiect ; which makes histories and the lively charac- 
ters and expressions of virtues and vices useful to us. 
The sight, yea, the very reading of the suffering of 

118 THE soul's conflict. 

the martyrs hath wrought such a hatred of that per- 
secuting church, as hath done marvellous good ; the 
sight of justice executed upon malefactors, works a 
greater hatred of sin in men than naked precepts can 
do ; so outward pomp and state in the world, doth 
further that awful respect due to authority, &c. 

Lastly, It would much avail for the well ordering 
of our thoughts, to set our souls in order every morn- 
ing, and to strengthen and perfume our spirits with 
some gracious meditations, especially of the chief end 
and scope wherefore we live here, and how every 
thing we do, or befalls us, may be reduced and or- 
dered to further the main. The end of a Christian is 
glorious, and the oft thoughts of it will raise and en- 
large the soul, and set it on work to study how to 
make all things serviceable thereunto. It is a thing 
to be lamented that a Christian born for heaven, hav- 
ing the price of his high calling set before him, and 
matters of that weight and excellency to exercise his 
heart upon, should be taken up with trifles, and fill 
both his head and heart with vanity and nothing, as 
all earthly things will prove ere long ; and yet if 
many men's thoughts and discourses were distilled, 
they are so frothy that they would hardly yield one 
drop of true comfort. 

§ IV. Oh but, say some, thoughts and imaginations 
are free, and we shall not be accountable for them. 

Tliis is a false plea, for God hath a sovereignty 
over the whole soul, and his law binds the whole in- 
ward and outward man ; as we desire our whole man 
should be saved by Christ, so we must yield up the 
whole man to be governed by him ; and it is the 
effect of the dispensation of the Gospel, accompanied 

THE soul's conflict. 119 

with the Spirit, to captivate whatsoever is in man 
unto Christ, and to bring down all high towering 
imaginations, 2 Cor. x. 5, that exalt themselves 
against God's Spirit. There is a divinity in the word 
of God powerfully unfolded, which will convince our 
souls of the sinfulness of natural imaginations, as we 
see in the idiot. Cor, 14, who, seeing himself laid open 
before himself, cried out, that God was in the speaker, 
I Cor. xiv. 25. 

There ought to be in man a conformity to the truth 
and goodness of things, or else, 1. We shall wrong 
our own souls with false apprehensions : and 2. the 
creature, by putting a fashion upon it otherwise than 
God hath made : and 3. we shall wrong God himself 
the author of goodness, who cannot have his true 
glory but from a right apprehension of things as they 
are ; what a wrong is it to men when we shall take 
up false prejudices against them without ground ; 
and so suffer our conceits to be envenomed against 
them by unjust suspicions, and by this* means de- 
prive ourselves of all that good which we might re- 
ceive by them ? for our nature is apt to judge, and 
accept of things as the persons are, and not of per- 
sons according to the things themselves : this faculty 
exercises a tyranny in the soul, setting up and pull- 
ing down whom it will. Job judged his friends alto- 
gether vain, Job xxvii. 12 ; because they went upon 
a vain imagination and discourse, judging him to be 
a hypocrite which could not but add much to his af- 
fliction : when men take a toy in their head against 
a person or place, they are ready to reason as he did, 
Can any good come out of Nazareth ? John vi. 46. 

It is an indignity for men to be led with surmises 
and probabilities, and so to pass a rash judgment 

120 THE soul's conflict. 

upon persons and things : oftentimes falsehood hath 
a fairer gloss of probability than truth ; and vices go 
masked under the appearance of virtue, whereupon 
seeming likeness breeds a mistake of one thing for 
another; and Satan oftentimes casts a mist before 
our imagination, that so we might have a misshapen 
conceit of things ; by a spirit of illusion he makes 
worldly things appear bigger to us, and spiritual things 
less than indeed they are ; and so by sophisticating 
of things our affections come to be misled. Imagina- 
tion is the womb, and Satan the father of all monstrous 
conceptions and disordered lusts, which are well called 
deceitful lusts, Eph. iv. 22 ; and lusts of ignorance 
1 Tim. vi. 9, foolish and noisome lusts, because they 
both spring from error and folly, and lead unto it. 

We see even in religion itself, how the world, toge- 
ther with the help of the God of the world, is led 
away, if not to worship images, yet to worship the 
image of their own fancy ; and where the truth is most 
professed, yet people are prone to fancy to themselves 
such a breadth of religion, as will altogether leave 
them comfortless, when things shall appear in their 
true colours ; they will conceit to embrace truth with- 
out hatred of the world, and Christ without his cross, 
and a godly life without persecutions, they would pull 
a rose without pricks ; which though it may stand 
with their own base ends for a while, yet will not hold 
out in times of change when sickness of body and 
trouble of mind shall come ; empty conceits are too 
weak to encounter with real griefs. 

Some think orthodox and right opinions to be a 
plea for a loose life, whereas there is no ill course of 
life but springs from some false opinion. God will 
not only call us to an account how we have believedy 

THE soul's conflict. 12l 

disputed, and reasoned, &c. but how we have Hved. 
Our care therefore should be to build our profession 
not on seeming appearances, but upon sound grounds, 
that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. The 
hearts of many are so vain, that they delight to be 
blown up with flattery, because they would have their 
imaginations pleased (yea, even when they cannot 
but know themselves abused) and are grieved to have 
their windy bladder pricked, and so to be put out of 
their conceited happiness. Others out of a tedious- 
ness in serious and settled thoughts entertain every 
thing as it is offered to them at the first blush, and 
suffer their imaginations to carry them presently there- 
unto without further judging of it : the will naturally 
loves variety and change, and our imagination doth 
it service herein, as not dehghting to fix long upon 
any thing ; hereupon men are contented both in reh- 
gion, and in common life to be misled with prejudices 
upon shallow grounds : whence it is that the best 
things and persons suffer much in the world, the 
power and practice of religion is hated under odious 
names, and so condemned before it is understood ; 
whence we see a necessity of getting spiritual eye-salve, 
for without true knowledge the heart cannot he good, 
Prov. xix. 2. 

It is just with God that those who take liberty in 
their thoughts should be given up to their own ima- 
ginations, to delight in them, and to be out of conceit 
with the best things, and so to reap the fruit of their 
own ways. Nay, even the best of God's people, if 
they take liberty herein, God will let loose their ima- 
gination upon themselves, and suffer them to be in- 
tangled and vexed with their own hearts ; those that 
give way to their imaginations, show what their ac- 


tions should be, if they dared ; for if they forbear do- 
ing evil out of conscience, they should as well forbear 
imagining evil ; for both are alike open to God and 
hateful to him ; and therefore oft where there is no 
conscience of the thought, God gives men up to the 
deed. The greatest, and hardest work of a Christian 
is least in sight, which is the well ordering of his heart ; 
some buildings have most workmanship under ground ; 
it is our spirits that God who is a spirit, John iv. 24, 
hath most communion withal ; and the less freedom 
we take to sin here, the more argument of our since- 
rity, because there is no laws to bind the inner man 
but the law of the Spirit of grace, whereby we are a 
law to ourselves. A good Christian begins his repen- 
tance where his sin begins, in his thoughts, which are 
the next issue of his heart. God counts it an honour 
when we regard his all-seeing eye so much, as that 
we will not take liberty to ourselves in that which is 
offensive to him, no, not in our hearts, wherein no 
creature can hinder us ; it is an argument that the 
Spirit hath set up a kingdom and order in our hearts, 
when our spirits rise within us against any thing that 
lifts itself up against goodness. 

§ V. Many flatter themselves, from an impossibility 
of ruling their imaginations, and are ready to lay all 
upon infirmity and natural weakness, &c. 

But such must know that if we be sound Christians, 
the Spirit of God will enable us to do all things 
(Evangelical) that we are called unto, if we give way 
without check to the motions thereof; where the Spi- 
rit is, it is such a hght as discovers not only dunghills, 
but motes themselves, even light and flying imagina- 
ions, and abaseth the soul for them, and by degrees 

THE soul's conflict. 123 

purgeth them out ; and if they press (as they are as 
busy as flies in summer) yet a good heart will not own 
them, nor allow himself in them, but casts them off, 
as hot water doth the scum, or as the stomach doth 
that which is noisome unto it, they find not that en- 
tertainment here which they have in carnal hearts, 
where the scum soaks in ; which are stews of unclean 
thoughts, shambles of cruel and bloody thoughts, 
exchanges and shops of vain thoughts, a very forge 
and mint of false politic, and undermining thoughts, 
yea, often a little hell of confused and black imagina- 
tions. There is nothing that more moveth a godly 
man to renew his interest every day in the perfect 
righteousness and obedience of his Saviour, than these 
sinful stirrings of his soul, when he finds something in 
himself always enticing and drawing away his heart 
from God, and intermingling itself with his best per- 
formances. Even good thoughts are troublesome if 
they come unseasonably, and weaken our exact per 
formance of duty. 

§ VI. But here some misconceits must be taken 
heed of. 

1 . As we must take heed that we account not our 
imaginations to be religion ; so we must not account 
true religion, and the power of godliness to be a mat- 
ter of imagination only ; as if holy men troubled them- 
selves more than needs, when they stand upon reli- 
gion and conscience, seeking to approve themselves 
to God in all things, 1 Thes. v. 12, and endeavouring 
so far as frailty will permit, to avoid all appearances 
of evil, 1 Thes. v. 22. Many men are so serious in 
vanities, and real in trifles, that they count all, which 
dote not upon such outward excellencies as they do. 

124 THE soul's conflict. 

because the Spirit of God hath revealed to them things 
of a higher nature, to be fantastic and humorous 
people, and so impute the work of the Spirit to the 
flesh, God's work to Satan, which comes near unto 
blasphemy : they imagine good men to be led with 
vain conceits, but good men know them to be so led. 
Not only Saint Paul, but Christ himself, were counted 
beside themselves. Acts xxvi. 24, when they were 
earnest for God and the souls of his people. But 
there is enough in rehgion to bear up the soul against 
all imputations laid upon it : the true children of wis- 
dom are always able to justify their mother. Matt, 
xi. 19, and the conscionable practice of holy duties, 
is founded upon such solid grounds as shall hold out 
when heaven and earth shall vanish. 

2. We must know that as there is great danger in 
false conceits of the way to heaven, when we make it 
broader than it is, for by this means we are like men 
going over a bridge, who think it broader than it is, 
but being deceived by some shadow, sink down, and 
are suddenly drowned ; so men mistaking the straight 
way to life, and trusting to the shadow of their own 
imagination, fall into the bottomless pit of hell before 
they are aware. In like manner the danger is great 
in making the way to heaven narrower than indeed it 
is by weak and superstitious imaginations, making 
more sins than God hath made. The wise mans 
counsel is that we should not make ourselves over- 
wicked, not he foolisher than we are, Eccl. vii. 17, 
by devising more sins in our imagination than we are 
guilty of. 

It is good in this respect, to know our Christian 
liberty, which being one of the fruits of Christ's death, 
we cannot neglect the same, without much wrong not 


only to ourselves, but to the rich bounty and good- 
ness of God. So that the due rules of limitation be 
observed, from authority, piety, sobriety, needless 
offence of others, &c. we may with better leave use 
all those comforts which God hath given to refresh us 
in the way to heaven, than refuse them ; the care of 
the outward man binds conscience so far, as that we 
should neglect nothing which may help us in a cheer- 
ful serving of God, in our places, and tend to the due 
honour of our bodies, which are the temples of the 
holy Ghost, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, and companions with 
our souls in all performances. So that under this 
pretence we take not too much liberty to satisfy the 
lusts of the body. Intemperate use of the creatures 
is the nurse of all passions : because our spirits, which 
are the souFs instruments, are hereby inflamed and 
disturbed ; it is no wonder to see an intemperate man 
transported into any passion. 

3. Some out of their high and airy imaginations 
(and out of their iron and flinty philosophy) will 
needs think outward good and ill, together with the 
affections of grief and delight stirred up thereby to 
be but opinions and conceits of good and evil only, 
not true and really so founded in nature, but taken 
up of ourselves : but though our fancy be ready to 
conceit a greater hurt in outward evils than indeed 
there is, as in jwverty , pain of body, death of friends, 
&c., yet we must not deny them to be evils : that 
wormwood is bitter, it is not a conceit only, but the 
nature of the thing itself, yet to abstain from it alto- 
gether for the bitterness thereof is a hurtful conceit. 
That honey is sweet, it is not a conceit only, but the 
natural quality of it is so ; yet out of a taste of the 
sweetness, to think we cannot take too much of it, is 

126 THE soul's conflict. 

a misconceit paid home with loathsome bitterness. 
Outward good and outward evil, and the affections 
of delight and sorrow rising thence, are naturally so, 
and depend not upon our opinion. This were to 
offer violence to nature, and to take man out of man, 
as if he were not flesh but steel ; universal experience, 
from the sensibleness of our nature in any outward 
grievance, is sufficient to damn this conceit. 

The way to comfort a man in grief, is not to tell 
him that it is only a conceit of evil, and no evil in- 
deed that he suffers ; this kind of learning will not 
down with him, as being contrary to his present feel- 
ing ; but the way is, to yield unto him that there is 
cause of grieving, though not of over grieving, and to 
show him grounds of comfort stronger than the grief 
he suffers. We should weigh the degrees of evil in a 
right balance, and not suffer fancy to make them 
greater than they are ; so as that for obtaining the 
greatest outward good, or avoiding the greatest out- 
ward ill of suffering, we should give way to the least 
evil of sin. This is but a policy of the flesh to take 
away the sensibleness of evil, that so those checks of 
conscience and repentance for sin, which is oft occa- 
sioned thereby, might be taken away ; that so men 
may go on enjoying a stupid happiness, never laying 
any thing to heart, nor afflicting their souls, until 
their consciences awaken in the place of the damned, 
and then they feel that grief return upon them for 
ever, which they laboured to put away when it might 
have been seasonable to them. 

§ VII. I have stood the longer upon this, because 
Satan and his instruments by bewitching the imagi- 
nation with false appearances, misleadeth not only 


the world, but troubleth the peace of men taken out 
of the world, whose estate is laid up safe in Christ, 
who, notwithstanding, pass their few days here in an 
uncomfortable wearisome, and unnecessary sadness 
of spirit, being kept in ignorance of their happy con- 
dition by Satan's juggling and their own mistakes, 
and so come to heaven before they are aware. Some 
again pass their days in a golden dream, and drop 
into hell before they think of it ; but it is far better 
to dream of ill, and when we awake to find it but a 
dream, than to dream of some great good, and when 
we awake to find the contrary. 

As the distemper of the fancy disturbing the act of 
reason, oftentimes breeds madness in regard of civil 
conversation ; so it breeds likewise spiritual madness, 
carrying men to those things, which if they were in 
their right wits they would utterly abhor, therefore 
we cannot have too much care upon what we fix our 
thoughts ; and what a glorious discovery is there of 
the excellencies of rehgion that would even ravish an 
angel, which may raise up, exercise, and fill our 
hearts ? we see our fancy hath so great a force in na- 
tural conceptions, that it oft sets a mark and impres- 
sion upon that which is conceived in the womb. So 
likewise strong and holy conceits of things, having a 
divine virtue accompanying of them, transform the 
soul, and breed spiritual impressions answerable to 
our spiritual apprehensions. It would prevent many 
crosses, if we would conceive of things as they are ; 
when trouble of mind, or sickness of body, and death 
itself Cometh, what will remain of all that greatness 
which filled our fancies before ? then we can judge 
soberly, and speak gravely of things. The best way 
of happiness, is not to multiply honours or riches, &c. 


but to cure our conceits of things, and then we can- 
not be very much cast down with any thing that be- 
falls us here. 

Therefore when any thing is presented to our souls, 
which we see is ready to work upon us, we should 
ask of ourselves upon what ground we entertain such 
a conceit, whether we shall have the same judgment 
after we have yielded to it as now we have ? and whe- 
ther we will have the same judgment of it in sickness 
and death, and at the day of reckoning as we have 
for the present ? That which is of itself evil, is always 
so at one time as well as another ; if the time will 
come, when we shall think those things to be vain, 
which now we are so eagerly set upon, as if there 
were some great good in them ; why should we not 
think so of them now, when as the reforming of our 
judgment may do us good : rather than to be led on 
with a pleasing error until that time, wherein the sight 
of our error will fill our hearts with horror and shame, 
without hope of ever changing our condition ? 

Here therefore is a special use of these soliloquies, 
to awake the soul, and to stir up reason cast asleep 
by Satan's charms, that so scattering the clouds 
through which things seem otherwise than they are, 
we may discern and judge of things according to their 
true and constant nature. Demand of thy soul. Shall 
I always be of this mind ? Will not the time come 
when this will prove bitterness in the end ? Shall I 
redeem a short contentment with lasting sorrow ? Is 
my judge of my mind ? Will not a time come when 
all things shall appear as they are ? Is this according 
to the rule, &c. ? 

To conclude therefore, whereas there be divers 
principles of men's actions, as 1. Natural inclination ^ 


inclining us to some courses more than others : 2. 
Custom, which is another nature in us : 3. Imagi- 
nation, apprehending things upon shallow grounds ; 
from whence springs affectation, whereby we desire 
glory in things above our own strength and measure, 
and make show of that, the truth whereof is wanting 
in us. 4. True judgment, discerning the true reasons 
of things. 5. Faith, which is a spiritual principle 
planted in the soul, apprehending things above rea- 
son, and raising us up to conceive of all things as 
God hath discovered them. Now a sound Christian 
should not be lightly led with those first common 
grounds of natural inclination, custom, opinion, &c. 
but by judgment enhghtened, advanced, and guided 
by faith. And we must take heed we suffer not 
things to pass suddenly from imagination to affec- 
tion, without asking advice of our judgment, and 
faith in the way, whose office is to weigh things in 
God's balance, and thereupon to accept or refuse 


Of Help by others. Of true Comforters, and their 
Graces. Method. Ill Success. 

§ I. T3UT because we are subject to favour and 
JD flatter ourselves, it is wisdom to take the 
benefit of a second self, that is, a well chosen friend 
living or dead, (books I mean) which will speak truly 
without flattery of our estates. A friend is made 
for the time of adversity, Prov. xvii. 17; and two 
are better than one ; for by this means our troubles 
are divided, and so more easily borne. The very 
presence of a true-hearted friend yields often ease to 
our grief : of all friends, those that by office are to 

130 THE soul's conflict. 

speak a word to a weary soul, are most to be re- 
garded, as speaking to us in Christ's stead. Often- 
times, especially in our own case, we are blinded and 
benighted with passion, and then the judgment of a 
jfriend is clearer. Loving friends have a threefold 
privilege: l. Their advice is suitable, and fit to our 
present occasion, they can meet with our grievance, 
so cannot books so well : 2. What comes from a 
Hying friend, comes lively, as helped by his spirit : 
3. In regard of ourselves, what they say is appre- 
hended with more ease, and less plodding and bent 
of mind ; there is scarce any thing wherein we see God 
more in favour towards us, than in our friends, and 
their seasonable speeches ; our hearts being naturally 
very false and willingly deceived. God often gives 
us up to be misled by men, not according to his, but 
our own naughty hearts. As men are, so are their 
counsellors, for such they will have, and such God 
lets them have. Men whose wills are stronger than 
their wits, who are wedded to their own ways, are 
more pleased to hear that which complies with their 
inclinations, than a harsh truth which crosses them ; 
this presages ruin, because they are not counselable : 
wherefore God suffers them to be led through difooVs 
paradise to a true prison, as men that will neither 
hear themselves nor others who would do them good 
against their wills ; it was a sign God would destroy 
Eli's sons when they would hear no counsel, 1 Sam. 
ii. 25 ; God fills such men with their own ways, 
Prov. xiv. 14. Men in great place often in the 
abundance of all things else, want the benefit of a 
true friend, because under pretence of service of them 
men carry their own ends ; as they flatter themselves, 
so they are flattered by others, and so robbed of the 


tme judgment of themselves. Of all spiritual judg- 
ments this is the heaviest, for men to be given up to 
such a measure of self-willness, and to refuse spiritual 
balm to heal them, usually such perish without re^ 
medy, Prov. xxix. 1, because to be wilfully miserable 
is to be doubly miserable, for it adds to our misery, 
that we brought it willingly upon ourselves. 

It is a course that will have a blessing attending it, 
for friends to join in league, one to watch over another, 
and observe each other's ways. It is a usual course 
for Christians to join together in other holy duties, as 
hearing, receiving of the sacrament, prayer, &c. but 
this fruit of holy communion which ariseth from a 
mutual observing one another is much wanting;, 
whence it is that many droop, so many are so un- 
cheerful in the ways of God, and lie groaning under 
the burden of many cares, and are battered vrith so 
many temptations, &c. because they are left only to 
their own spirits. What an unworthy thing is it, 
that we should pity a beast over-loaden, and yet take 
no pity of a brother? whereas there is no living 
member of Christ but hath spiritual love infused into 
him, and some abihty to comfort others. Dead 
stones in an arch uphold one another, and shall not 
living ? It is the work of an angel to comfort, nav, 
it is the office of the Holy Ghost to be a comforter, 
not only immediately, but by breathing comfort into, 
our hearts together with the comfortable words of 
others ; thus one friend becomes an angel, nay a God 
to another ; and there is a sweet sight of God in the 
face of a friend ; for though the comfort given by 
God's messengers be ordinarily most effectual, as the 
blessing of parents, who are in God's room, is more 
effectual than the blessing of others upon their chil-^ 


dren : yet God hath promised a blessing to the offices 
of communion of saints performed by one private 
man towards another. Can we have a greater en- 
couragement than under God to be gainer of a soul, 
which is as much in God's esteem as if we should 
gain a world ? Spiritual alms are the best alms ; 
mercy showed to the souls of men is the greatest 
mercy ; and wisdom in winning of souls is the great- 
est wisdom in the world, because the soul is especially 
the man, upon the goodness of which, the happiness 
of the whole man depends : what shining and flou- 
rishing Christians should we have if these duties were 
performed ? As we have a portion in the communion 
of saints, so we should labour to have humility to 
take good, and wisdom and love to do good. A 
Christian should have feeding lips, and a healing 
tongue; the leaves, the very words of the tree of 
righteousness have a curing virtue in them. 

Some will show a great deal of humanity in com- 
forting others, but little Christianity; for as kind 
men they will utter some cheerful words, but as Chris- 
tians they want wisdom from above to speak a graci- 
ous word in season : nay, some there are, who hin- 
der the saving working of any affliction upon the 
hearts of others, by unseasonable and unsavory dis- 
courses, either by suggesting false remedies, or else 
diverting men to false contentments, and so become 
spiritual traitors rather than friends, taking part with 
their worst enemies, their lusts, and wills. Happy is 
he that in his way to heaven meeteth with a cheerful 
and skilful guide and fellow-traveller, that carrieth 
cordials with him against all faintings of spirit : it is 
a part of our wisdom to salvation to make choice of 
3uch a one as may further us in our way : an indif- 


ferency for any company shows a dead heart ; where 
the Hfe of grace is, it is sensible of all advantages and 
disadvantages : how many have been refreshed by 
one short, apt, savoury speech ? which hath begotten, 
as it were, new spirits in them. 

In ancient times, as we see in the story of Job, 
chap. ii. 12, it was the custom of friends to meet to- 
gether, to comfort those that were in misery, and Job 
takes it for granted, that to him that is afflicted pity 
should be showed from his friends, chap. vi. 14 : for 
besides the presence of a friend which hath some influ- 
ence of comfort in it ; 1. The discovery of his loving 
affection hath a cherishing sweetness in it. 2. The 
expression of love in real comforts and services by sup- 
plying any outward want of the party troubled, pre- 
vails much; thus Christ made way for his comforts 
to the souls of men, by showing outward kindness to 
their bodies : love with the sensible fruits of it, pre- 
pareth for any wholesome counsel. 3. After this, 
wholesome words carry a special cordial virtue with 
them, especially when the Spirit of God in the affec- 
tionate speaker joins with the word of comfort, and 
thereby closeth with the heart of a troubled patient : 
when all these concentre and meet together in one, 
then is comfort sealed up to the soul. The child in 
Elizabeth's womb sprang at the presence and saluta- 
tion of Mary, Luke i. 41 ; the speech of one hearty 
friend cannot but revive the spirits of another ; sym- 
pathy hath a strange force, as we see in the strings of 
an instrument, which being played upon, as they say, 
the strings of another instrument are also moved with 
it. After love hath once kindled love, then the heart 
being melted, is fit to receive any impression ; unless 
both pieces of the iron be red hot they will not join 

134 THE soul's conflict. 

together ; two spirits warmed with the same heat will 
easily solder together. 

§ II. In him that shall stay the mind of another 
there had need to be an excellent temper of many 
graces; as, 1. Knowledge of the grievance, together 
with wisdom to speak a word in season, and to con- 
ceal that which may set the cure backwards. 2. 
Faithfulness with liberty, not to conceal any thing 
which may be for his good, though against present 
liking. The very life and soul of friendship stands in 
freedom, tempered with wisdom and faithfulness. 3. 
Love with compassion and patience to bear all, and 
hope all, and Jiot to be easily provoked by the way- 
wardness of him we deal with. Short-spirited men 
are not the best comforters ; God himself is said to 
bear with the manners of his people in the wilder- 
ness, Acts xiii. 18 ; it is one thing to bear with a wise 
sweet moderation that which may be borne, and ano- 
ther thing to allow or approve that which is not to 
be approved at all. Where these graces are in the 
speaker, and apprehended so to be by the person 
distempered, his heart will soon embrace whatsoever 
shall be spoken to rectify his judgment or affection. 
A good conceit of the spirit of the speaker is of as 
much force to prevail as his words. Words especially 
prevail, when they are uttered more from the bowels 
than the brain, and from our own experience, which 
made even Christ himself a more compassionate high 
priest. When men come to themselves again they 
will be the deepest censurers of their own miscarriage. 

§ III. Moreover to the right comforting of an afflicted 
person, special care must be had of discerning the true 

THE soul's conflict. 135 

ground of his grievance, the core must be searched 
out ; if the grief ariseth from outward causes, then it 
must be carried into the right channel, the course of 
it must be turned another way, as in staying of blood : 
we should grieve for sin in the first place, as being 
the evil of all evils : if the ground be sin, then it must 
be drawn to a head, from a confused grief to some 
more particular sin, that so we may strike the right 
vein ; but if we find the spirit much cast down for 
particular sins, then comfort is presently to be apphed ; 
but if the grief be not fully ripe, then, as we use to 
help nature in its offers to purge, by physic, till the 
sick matter be carried away; so when conscience, 
moved by the spirit, begins to ease itself by confession, 
it is good to help forward the work of it, till we find 
the heart low enough for comfort to be laid upon. 
When Paul found the jailer cast down almost as low 
as hell, he stands not now upon further hammering, 
and preparing of him for mercy, that work was done 
already, but presently stirs him up to believe in the 
Lord Jesus Christ, Acts xvi. 31 ; here being a fit 
place for an interpreter to declare unto man his righ- 
teousness, and his mercy that belongs unto him after 
he hath acknowledged his personal and particular 
sins, which the natural guilt of the heart is extremely 
backward to do, and yet cannot receive any sound 
peace till it be done : if signs of grace be discerned, 
here likewise is a fit place to declare unto man the 
saving work of grace in his heart, which Satan labours 
•to hide from him. Men oft are not able to read their 
own evidences without help. 

In case of stiffness and standing out, it is fit the 
man of God should take some authority upon him, 
and lay a charge upon the souls of men in the name 

136 THE soul's conflict. 

of Christ, to give way to the truth of Christ, and to 
forbear putting off that mercy which is so kindly of- 
fered when we judge it to be their portion ; which 
course will be successful in hearts awed with a reve-'^ 
rend fear of grieving God's Spirit. Sometimes men 
must be dealt roundly withal, as David here deals 
with his own soul, that so whilst we ask a reason of 
their dejection, they may plainly see they have no rea- 
son to be so cast down ; for oftentimes grievances are 
irrational, rising from mistakes ; and counsel, bringing 
into the soul a fresh light, dissolves those gross fogs, 
and setteth the soul at liberty. What grief is con- 
tracted by false reason, is by true reason altered. 
Thus it pleaseth God to humble men by letting them 
see in what need they stand one of another, that so 
the communion of saints may be endeared ; every re- 
lation wherein we stand towards others, are so many 
bonds and sinews whereby one member is fitted to de- 
rive comfort to another, through love the bond of per- 
fection, Col. iii. 18 : all must be done in this sweet 
affection. A member out of joint must be tenderly 
set in again, and bound up, which only men guided 
by the spirit of love seasoned with discretion are fit 
to do, they are taught of God to do what they should. 
The more of Christ is in any man, the more wiUing- 
ness and fitness to this duty ; to which this should en- 
courage us, that in strengthening others we strengthen 
ourselves, and derive upon ourselves the blessing pro- 
nounced on those that consider the needy, Psalm xli. 
1 , which will be our comfort here, and crown hereafter, 
that God hath honoured us, to be instruments of spi- 
ritual good to others. It is an injunction to comfort 
the feeble minded, 1 Thes. v. 14, and there is a heavy 
imputation on those that comforted not the weaky 


Ezek. xxxiv. 4, when men will not own men in trouble, 
but as the herd of deer forsake and push away the 
wounded deer from them ; and those that are any ways 
cast down, must stoop to those ways which God hath 
sanctified to convey comfort; for though sometimes 
the Spirit of God immediately comforts the soul, which 
is the sweetest, yet for the most part the Sun of righ- 
teousness that hath healing in his wings, conveyeth 
the beams of his comfort by the help of others, in whom 
he will have much of our comfort to lie hid, and for 
this very end it pleaseth God to exercise his children, 
and ministers especially, with trials and afflictions, 
that so they, having felt what a troubled spirit is in 
themselves, might be able to comfort others in their 
distresses with the same comfort wherewith they have 
been comforted : God often suspends comfort from us 
to drive us to make use of our Christian friends, by 
whom he purposeth to do us good. Oftentimes the 
very opening of men's grievances, bringeth ease with- 
out any further working upon them ; the very open- 
ing of a vein cools the blood. If God in the state of 
innocency thought it fit man should have a helper, if 
God thought it fit to send an angel to comfort Christ 
in his agonies, shall any man think the comfort of ano- 
ther more than needs ? Satan makes every affliction, 
by reason of our corruption, a temptation to us, where- 
upon we are to encounter not only with our own cor- 
ruptions, but with spiritual wickednesses, and need we 
not then that others should join forces with us to dis- 
cover the temptation, and to confirm and comfort us 
against it? for so reason joining with reason, and af- 
fection with affection, we come by uniting of strength 
to be impregnable. Satan hath most advantage in 
solitariness, and thereupon sets upon Christ in the 

138 THE soul's conflict. 

wilderness^ Matt. iv. and upon Eve single, Gen. iii. 
and it added to the glory of Christ's victory, that he 
overcame him in a single combat, and in a place of 
such disadvantage. Those that will be alone, at such 
times, do as much as in them lieth to tempt the 
tempter himself to tempt them. The preacher gives 
three reasons why two are better than one, Eccles. 
iv. 9; 1. Because if one fall, the other may Hft him 
up : as that which is stronger shoreth up that which 
is weaker, so feeble minds are raised and kept up by 
the stronger : nay, oftentimes he that is weaker in 
one grace is stronger in another ; one may help by 
his experience and meekness of love, that needs the 
help of another for knowledge. 2. \Uwo lie together, 
one may warm another by kindhng one another's 
spirits. Where two meet together upon such holy 
grounds and aims, there Christ by his Spirit makes up 
another, and this threefold cable who shall break? 
While Joas lived, Jehoiada stood upright ; while Lati- 
mer and Ridley lived, they kept up Cranmer by in- 
tercourse of letters and otherwise, from entertaining 
counsels of revolt. The disciples presently upon 
Christ's apprehension fainted, notwithstanding he la- 
boured by his heavenly doctrine to put courage and 
comfort into them. 3. If any give an onset upon 
them, there is two to withstand it, spirit joining with 
spirit ; and because there is an acquaintance of spirits 
as well as of persons, those are fittest to lay open our 
minds unto, in whom upon experience of their fidelity 
our hearts may most safely rely, we lose much of our 
strength in the loss of a true friend ; which made Da- 
vid bemoan the loss of his friend Jonathan, Woe is me 
for thee my brother Jonathan ! 2 Sam. i. 20. He 
lost a piece of himself, by losing him whom his heart 
so clave unto ; Saint Paul accounted that God had 

THE soul's conflict. 139 

showed especial mercy to him, in the recovery of Epa- 
phroditus, Phil, ii. 27. 

§ IV. But there are divers miscarriages in those that 
are troubled, which make the comfort of others of none 

1. When the troubled party deals not directly, but 
doubleth with him that is to help him. Some are 
ashamed to acknowledge the true ground of their 
grievance, pretending sorrow for one thing, when their 
hearts tell them it ariseth from another : like the lap- 
wings which make greatest noise farthest from their 
nest, because they would not have it discovered : this 
deceit moved our blessed Saviour (who knew what 
was in the hearts of men) to fit his answers many times, 
rather to the man than to the matter. 

2. Some rely too much upon particular men. Oh 
if they had such a one they should do well, and mis- 
like others (fitter perhaps to deal with them, as having 
more thorough knowledge of their estates) because they 
would have their disease rather covered than cured ; 
or if cured, yet with soft words, whereas no plaister 
worketh better than that which causes smart. Some 
out of mere humorous fondness must have that which 
can hardly be got, or else nothing pleases them : Da- 
vid must needs have the waters of Bethlehem, 2. Sam. 
xxiii. 15, when others were nearer hand : and often- 
times when men have not only whom they desire, but 
such also who are fit and dextrous in dealing with a 
troubled spirit, yet their souls feel no comfort, because 
they make idols of men ; whereas men at the best are 
but conduits of comfort, and such as God freely con- 
veyeth comfort by, taking liberty oft to deny comfort 
by them, that so he may be acknowledged the God 
of all comfort. 

140 THE soul's conflict. 

3. Some delude themselves, by thinking it suffici- 
ent to have a few good v^^ords spoken to them, as if 
that could cure them ; not regarding to apprehend 
the same, and mingle it with faith, without which, 
good words lose their working, even as wholesome 
physic in a dead stomach. 

Besides miscarriages in comforting ; times will often 
fall out in our lives, that we shall have none either to 
comfort us, or to be comforted by us, and then what 
will become of us unless we can comfort ourselves ? 
Men must not think always to Uve upon alms, but 
lay up something in store for themselves, and provide 
oil for their own lamps, and be able to draw out some- 
thing from the treasury of their own hearts. We must 
not go to the surgeon for every scratch. No wise tra- 
veller but will have some refreshing waters about him. 
Again, we are often driven to retire home to our own 
hearts, by uncharitable imputations of other men ; 
even friends sometimes become miserable comforters ; 
it was Job's case, chap, ii., his friends had honest in- 
tentions to comfort him, but erred in their manner of 
dealing ; if he had found no more comfort by reflect- 
ing upon his own sincerity, than he received from 
them, who laboured to take it from him, he had been 
doubly miserable. We are most privy to our own 
intentions and aims, whence comfort must be fetched ; 
let others speak what they can to us, if our own 
hearts speak not with them, we shall receive no satis- 
faction. Sometimes it may fall out, that those which 
should unloose our spirits when they are bound up, 
mistake, the key misses the_ right wards, and so we 
lie bound still. Opening of our estate to another is 
not good, but when it is necessary, and it is not ne- 
cessary, when we can fetch supply from our own 


store ; God would have us tender of our reputations, 
except in some special cases, wherein we are to give 
glory to God by a free and full confession. Needless 
discovery of ourselves to others, makes us fear the con- 
science of another man, as privy to that which we 
are ashamed he should be privy unto, and it is neither 
wisdom nor mercy to put men upon the rack of con- 
fession, further than they can have no ease any other 
way, for by this means we raise in them a jealousy 
towards us, and oft without cause, which weakeneth 
and tainteth that love which should unite hearts in 


Of flying to God in Disquiets of Souls : eight 
Observations out of the Text, 

WHAT if neither the speech of others to us, nor 
the rebuke of our own hearts will quiet the 
soul ; is there no other remedy left ? 

Yes, then look up to God, the father and fountain 
of comfort, as David doth here ; for the more special 
means whereby he sought to recover himself, was by 
laying a charge upon his soul to trust in God ; for 
having let his soul run out too much, he begins to re- 
collect himself again, and resign up all to God. 

§ I. But how came David to have the command of 
his own soul, so as to take it off from grief, and to 
place it upon God, could he dispose of his own heart 

The child of God hath something in him above a 
man, he hath the Spirit of God to guide his spirit : 
this command of David to his soul was under the 
command of the great commander : God commands 


David to trust in him, and at the same time infusetli 
strength into his soul by thinking of God's command, 
and trusting to God's power, to command itself to 
trust in God : so that this command is not only by 
authority, but by virtue likewise of God's command : 
as the inferior orbs move as they are moved by a 
higher; so David's spirit here moves as it is moved 
by God's spirit, which inwardly spak^ to him to speak 
to himself. 

David, in speaking thus to his own soul, was, as 
every true Christian is, a prophet, and an instructor 
to himself: it is but as if inferior officers should 
charge in the name and power of the king. God's 
children have a principle of life in them from the Spi- 
rit of God, by which they command themselves. To 
give charge belongs to a superior ; David had a dou- 
ble superior above him, his own spirit as sanctified, 
and God's Spirit guiding that. Our spirits are the 
Spirit's agents, and the Holy Spirit is God's agent, 
maintaining his right in us. As God hath made man 
a free agent, so he guides him, and preserves that 
free manner of working which is agreeable to man's 

By this it appears, that David's moving of himself, 
did not hinder the Spirit's moving of him, neither did 
the Spirit's moving of him hinder him from moving 
himself in a free manner; for the Spirit of God 
moveth according to our principles ; it openeth our 
understandings to see that it is best to trust in God ; 
it moveth so sweetly, as if it were an inbred principle, 
and all one with our own spirits ; if we should hold 
our will to move itself, and not to be moved by the 
Spirit, we should make a God of it, whose property 
is to move other things, and not to be moved by any. 


We are in "some sort lords over our own speeches 
and actions, but yet, under a higher lord. David 
was willing to trust in God, but God wrought that 
will in him : he first makes our will good, and then 
works by it. It is a sacrilegious liberty that will ac- 
knowledge no dependence upon God. We are wise 
in his wisdom, and strong in his strength, who saith, 
Without me ye can do nothing, John xv. But the 
bud of a good desire, and the blossom of a good re- 
solution, and the fruit of a good action, all comes 
from God. Indeed the understanding is ours where- 
by we know what to do, and the will is ours whereby 
we make choice of what is best to be done ; but the 
light whereby we know, and the guidance whereby 
we choose, that is from a higher agent, which is ready 
to flow into us with present fresh supply, when by 
virtue of former strength we put ourselves forward in 
obedience to God. Let but David say to his soul 
being charged of God to trust, I charge thee, my soul, 
to trust in him, and he finds a present strength en- 
abling to it. Therefore we must both depend upon 
God as the first mover, and withal set all the inferior 
wheels of our souls agoing according as the Spirit of 
God ministers motion unto us. So shall we be free 
from self-confidence, and likewise from neglecting 
that order of working which God hath established. 
David hearkened what the Lord said, before he said 
any thing to himself, so should we. God*s com- 
mands tend to this, that we should command our- 
selves. God, and the minister under God, bid us 
trust in him, but all is to no purpose till grace be 
wrought in the soul, whereby it bids itself; our 
speaking to others doth no good, till they by enter- 
taining what we say, speak the same to their own 


In this charge of David upon his own soul, we may 
see divers passages and privileges of a gracious heart 
in trouble. 

§ II. As 1. That a Christian, when he is beaten 
out of all other comforts, yet hath a God to run 
unto ; a wicked man beaten out of earthly comforts, 
is as a naked man in a storm, and an unarmed man 
in the field, or as a ship tossed in the sea without an 
anchor, which presently dashes upon rocks, or falleth 
upon quicksands ; but a Christian, when he is driven 
out of all comforts below, nay, when God seems to 
be angry with him, he can appeal from God angry to 
God appeased, he can wrestle and strive with God by 
God's own strength, fight with him with his own wea- 
pons, and plead with God by his own arguments. 
What a happy estate is this? who would not be a 
Christian, if it were but for this, to have something to 
rely on when all things else fail ? The confusion and 
unquietness which troubles raise in the soul, may 
drive it from resting in itself, but there can never be 
any true peace settled, until it sees and resolves what 
to stay upon. 

§ III. 2. We see here, that there is a sanctified use 
of all troubles to God's children ; first they drive 
them out of themselves, and then draw them nearer 
to God. Crosses indeed of themselves estrange us 
more from God, but by an overruling work of the 
Spirit they bring us nearer to him ; the soul of itself 
is ready to misgive, as if God had too many contro- 
versies with it, to show any favour towards it; and 
Satan helpeth ; because he knows nothing can stand 
and prevail against God, or a soul that relieth on 


him, therefore he labours to breed and increase an 
everlasting division betwixt God and the soul ; but 
let not Christians muse so much upon their trouble, 
but see whither it carries them, whether it brings 
them nearer unto God, or not; it is a never failing 
rule of discerning a man to be in the state of grace, 
when he finds every condition draw him nearer to 
God ; for thus it appears that such love God, and are 
called of him, unto whom all things work together 
for the best, Rom. viii. 28. 

§ IV. 3. Again, hence we see that the Spirit of 
God by these inward speeches doth awake the soul, 
and keep it in a holy exercise, by stirring up the 
grace of faith to its proper function. It is not so 
much the having of grace, as grace in exercise, that 
preserves the soul ; therefore we should by this and 
the like means stir up the grace of God in us, that 
so it may be kept aworking and in vigour and 
strength. It was David's manner to awake himself, 
by bidding both heart and harp to awake. It is the 
waking Christian (that hath his wit and his grace 
ready about him) who is the safe Christian; grace 
dormant without the exercise doth not secure us. It 
is almost all one (in regard of present exigence) for 
grace not to be and not to work. The soul without 
action is Uke an instrument not played upon, or like 
a ship always in the haven, motion is a preservative 
of the purity of things. Even life itself is made more 
lively by action. The Spirit of God whereby his 
children are led, is compared to things of the quickest 
and strongest actions ; as fire and wind, &c. God 
himself is a pure act, always in acting ; and every 
thing the nearer it comes to God, the more it hath its 


perfection in working. The happiness of man con- 
sists chiefly in a gracious frame of spirit, and actions 
suitable sweetly issuing therefrom : the very rest of 
heavenly bodies is in motion in their proper places. 
By this stirring up the grace of God in us, sparkles 
come to be flames, and all graces are kept bright. 
Troubles stir up David, and David being stirred stirs 
up himself. 

§ v. 4. We see likewise here a further use of so- 
liloquies or speeches to our own hearts ; when the 
soul by entering into itself sees itself put out of order, 
then it enjoins this duty of trusting in God upon it : 
if we look only on ourselves and not turn to God, the 
work of the soul is imperfect : then the soul worketh 
as it should, when as by reflecting on itself, it gathers 
some profitable conclusion, and leaveth itself with 
God. David upon reflecting on himself found no- 
thing but discouragement, but when he looks upward 
to God, there he finds rest. This is one end wliy 
God suffers the soul to tire and beat itself, that find- 
ing no rest in itself, it might seek to him. David 
yields not so much to his passion as that it should 
keep him from God. Therefore let no man truly re- 
ligious pretend, for an excuse, his temper or pro- 
voking occasions, &c. for grace doth raise the soul 
above nature; grace doth not only stop the soul in 
an evil way, but carries it to a contrary good, and 
raiseth it up to God. Though holy men be subject 
to like passions ivith others, James v. 17, (as it is 
said of Elias) yet they are not so enthralled to them, 
as that they carry them wholly away from their God, 
but they hear a voice of the Spirit within them, call- 
ing them back again to their former communion with 


God ; and so grace takes occasion, even from sin, to 
exercise itself. 

§ VI. 5, Observe farther, that distrust is the cause 
of all disquiet : the soul suffers itself by something 
here below^ to be drawn away from God, but can find 
no rest till it return to him again. As Noah's dove 
had no place to set her ybo^ upon^ Gen. viii. 11, till 
it was received into the ark from whence it came. 
And it is God's mercy to us, that when we have let 
go our hold of God, we should find nothing but trou- 
ble and unquietness in any thing else, that so we 
might remember from whence we are fallen, and re- 
turn home again. That is a good trouble which frees 
us from the greatest trouble, and brings with it the 
most comfortable rest ; it is but an unquiet quiet, and 
a restless rest which is out of God. It is a deep spi- 
ritual judgment for a man to find too much rest in the 
creature : the soul that hath had a saving work upon 
it, will be always impatient until it recover its former 
sweetness in God : after God's Spirit hath once 
touched the soul, it will never be quiet until it stands 
pointed God- ward. 

But conscience may object, UiJon any offence is 
God offended, and therefore not to be trusted ? 

It is true, where faith is not above natural conscience, 
but a conscience sprinkled with the blood of Christ, 
is not scared from God by its infirmities and failings, but 
as David here is rather stirred up to run unto God by 
his distemper ; and it had been a greater sin than his 
distemper not to have gone unto God. Those that 
have the spirit of sons in their hearts, run not further 
from God after they have a little strayed from him, 
but though it be the nature of sinful passions to breed 


grief and shame, yet they will repair to God again, 
and their confidence overcomes their guilt, so well are 
they acquainted with God's gracious disposition. 

Yet we see here, David thinks not of trusting in 
God, till first he had done justice upon his own soul, 
in rebuking the unruly motions thereof; censure for 
sin goeth before favour in pardoning sin, or boldness 
to ask pardon of God ; those that love God must 
hate ill, Psalm xcvii. 10 : if our consciences condemn 
us of allowing any sin, we cannot have boldness with 
God who is (light and can abide no darkness and) 
greater than our consciences, 

§ VII. 6. Moreover, hence we see it is no easy 
thing to bring God and the heart together : David 
here as he often checks his heart, so he doth often 
charge his heart. Doubts and troubles are still 
gathering upon him, and his faith still gathering upon 
them. As one striving to get the haven, is driven 
back by the waves, but recovering himself again, gets 
forward still, and after often beating back, at length 
obtains the wished haven, and then is at rest. So 
much ado there is to bring the soul unto God, the 
harbour of true comfort. It were an easy thing to 
be a Christian, if religion stood only in a few outward 
works and duties, but to take the soul to task, and to 
deal roundly with our own hearts, and to let con- 
science have its full work, and to bring the soul into 
spiritual subjection unto God ; this is not so easy a 
matter, because the soul out of self-love is loath to 
enter into itself, lest it should have other thoughts of 
itself than it would have; David must bid his soul 
trust, and trust, and trust again before it will yield. 
One main ground of this difficulty, is that contrary 


which is in the soul by reason of contrary principles : 
the soul so far as it is gracious, commands, so far as it is 
rebelHous, resists, which drew holy Austin to a kind of 
astonishment; *' The soul commands the body and it 
yields^ saith he, it commands itself, and is resisted by 
itself; it commands the hand to move, and it moveth 
with such an unperceivable quickness that you can 
discern no distance betwixt the command and the 
motion : Whence comes this ? but because the soul 
perfectly wills not, and perfectly enjoins not that 
which is good, and so far forth as it fully wills not, 
so far it holds back." There should be no need of 
commanding the soul if it were perfect, for then it 
would be of itself, what it now commandeth. If Da- 
vid had gotten his soul at perfect freedom at the first, 
he needed not have repeated his charge so often upon 
it. But the soul naturally sinks downward, and there- 
fore had need often to be wound up. 

§ VIII. 7. We should therefore labour to bring our 
souls, as David doth here, to a firm and peremptory 
resolution, and not stand wavering, and as it were 
equally balanced betwixt God and other things ; but 
enforce our souls, we shall get little ground of infi- 
delity else ; drive your souls therefore to this issue, 
either to rely upon God, or else to yield up itself to 
the present grievance ; if by yielding it resolves to be 
miserable, there's an end, but if it desires rest, then 
let it resolve upon this only way, to trust in God ; 
and well may the soul so resolve, because in God 
there are grounds of quieting the soul, above all that 
may unsettle it ; in him there is both worth to satisfy, 
and strength to support the soul. The best way to 
maintain inward peace, is to settle and fix our thoughts 

150 THE soul's COIn'FLICT. 

upon that which will make us better, till we find our 
hearts warmed and wrought upon thereby, and then, 
as the prophet speaks, God will keep us in peace : 
peace, that is, in perfect and abundant peace , Isaiah 
xxvi. 3. This resolution stayed Job, that though 
God should, kill him, yet he resolved to trust in him. 
Answerable to our resolution is our peace : the more 
resolution the more peace ; irresolution of itself with- 
out any grievance is full of disquiet ; it is an unsafe 
thing always to begin to live ; to be always cheapen- 
ing and paltering with God : come to this point once, 
trust God I ought, therefore trust God I will, come 
what may or will. 

And it is good to renew our resolutions again and 
again : for every new resolution brings the soul closer 
to God, and gets further in him, and brings fresh 
strength from him ; which if we neglect, our corrup- 
tion joining with outward hindrances will carry us 
further and further backward, and this will double, 
yea, multiply our trouble and grief to recover our- 
selves again ; we have both wind and tide against us : 
we are going up the hill, and therefore had need to 
arm ourselves with resolution. Since the fall, the 
motion of the soul upward, as of heavy bodies, is vio- 
lent ; in regard of corruption which weighs it down- 
ward, and therefore all enforcement is little enough : 
oppose therefore with David all invincible resolution, 
and then doubt not of prevailing ; if we resolve in 
God's power and not our own, and be strong in the 
Lord, Eph. vi. 10, and not in ourselves, then it mat- 
ters not what our troubles or temptations be either 
from within, or without, for trust in God at length 
will triumph. 

Here is a great mercy, that when David had a little 


let go his hold of God, yet God would not let go his 
hold of him, but by a spirit of faith draws him back 
again to himself; God turns us unto him, and then 
we return. Turn us again, saith the Psalmist, cause 
thy face to shine upon us, and we shall be saved, 
Psalm Ixxx. 19. When the soul leaves God once, it 
loses its way, and itself ; and never returns till God 
recalls it again. If moral principles, cherished and 
strengthened by good education, will enable the soul 
against vicious inclinations, so that though some in- 
fluence of the heavens work upon the air, and the air 
upon the spirits, and the spirits upon the humours, 
and these incline the temper, and that inclines the 
soul of a man such and such ways, yet breeding in the 
more refined sort of civil persons, will much prevail to 
draw them another way ; what then may we think of 
this powerful grace of faith which is altogether super- 
natural ? Will not this carry the soul above all natu- 
ral inchnations whatsoever (though strengthened by 
outward occasions), if we resolve to put it to it : Da- 
vid was a king of other men, but here he shows that 
he was a king of himself. What benefit is it for a 
man to be ruler over all the ^Cv^orld, and yet remain a 
slave to himself? 

§ IX. 8. Again, David here doth not only resolve, 
\mt presently takes up his soul before it strayed too 
far from God; the further and the longer the soul 
wanders from God, the more it entangles itself, and 
the thicker darkness will cover the soul, yea, the 
loather it is to come to God again, being ashamed to 
look God in the face after discontinuing of acquaint- 
ance with him ; nay, the stronger the league grows 
betwixt sin and the soul, and the more there groweth 

152 THE soul's COIs^FLICT. 

a kind of suitableness betwixt the soul and sin ; too 
long giving way to base thoughts and affections, dis- 
covers too much complacency and liking of sin. If 
we once give way, a little grief will turn into bitter 
sorrow, and that into a settled pensiveness and hea- 
viness of spirit , fear will grow into astonishment, and 
discouragement into despair; if ever we mean to 
trust God, why 'not now? How many are taken 
away in their offers and assays, before they have pre- 
pared their hearts to cleave unto God ? The sooner 
we give up ourselves to the Lord, the sooner we 
know upon what terms we stand, and the sooner we 
provide for our best security, and have not our grounds 
of comfort to seek when we shall stand most in need 
of them. Time will salve up grief in the meanest of 
men ; reason, in those that will suffer themselves to be 
ruled thereby, will cure, or at least stay the fits of it 
sooner : but faith, if we stir it up, will give our souls 
no rest, until it hath brought us to our true rest, that 
is, to God : therefore we should press the heart for- 
ward to God presently, that Satan make not the rent 

Lastly, here we see, that though the soul he over- 
borne by passion for a time, yet if grace hath once 
truly seasoned it, it will work itself into freedom 
again; grace as oil will be above. The eye when 
any dust falls into it, is not more tender and unquiet, 
till it be wrought out again, than a gracious soul is 
being once troubled : the spirit as a spring will be 
cleansing of itself more and more ; whereas the heart 
of a carnal man is like a standing pool, whatsoever is 
cast into it, there it rests ; trouble and disquietness in 
him are in their proper place ; it is proper for the sea 
to rage and cast up dirt ; God hath set it down for an 


eternal rule, that vexation and sin shall be insepa- 
rable. Happiness and rest were severed from sin in 
heaven when the angels fell, and in Paradise when 
Adam fell, and will remain for ever separated, until 
the breach be made up by faith in Christ, Gen, iii. 


Of Trust in God: Grounds of it ; especially his 

BUT to come nearer to the unfolding of this trust- 
ing in God, which David useth here as a re- 
medy against all distempers : Howsoever confidence 
and trust be an affection of nature, yet by the Spirit's 
sanctifying and carrying it to the right object, it be- 
comes a grace of wonderful use. In the things of this 
life usually he that hopes most is the most unwise 
man ; he being most deceived that hopes most, be- 
cause he trusts in that which is uncertain, and there- 
fore deceitful hope is counted but the dream of a 
waking man. But in religion it is far otherwise ; here, 
hope is the main supporting grace of the soul, spring- 
ing from faith in the promises of God. 

Trust and hope are often taken in the same sense, 
though a distinction betwixt them hath sometimes its 
use : faith looks to the word promising, hope to the 
thing promised in the word ; faith looks to the autho- 
rity of the promiser, hope (especially) to the goodness 
of the promise; faith looks upon things as present, 
hope as to come hereafter. God as the first truth is 
that which faith relies on, but God as the chief good 
is that which hope rests on : trust or confidence is 
nothing else, but the strength of hope ; if the thing 
hoped for be deferred, then of necessity it enforces 


waiting, and waiting is nothing else but hope and 
trust lengthened. 

Howsoever there may be use of these and such like 
distinctions, yet usually they are taken promiscuously, 
especially in the Old Testament. The nature and use 
of faith is set out by terms of staying, resting, lean- 
ing, rolling ourselves upon God, &:c. which come all 
to one, and therefore we forbear any further curious 

Now seeing trusting in God is a remedy against 
all distempers, it is necessary that we should bring the 
object and the act (God and the soul) together ; for 
effecting of which it is good to know something con- 
cerning God and something concerning trust. God 
is only the fit object of trust, he hath all the proper- 
ties of that which should be trusted on ; a man can 
be in no condition wherein God is at a loss and cannot 
help him ; if comforts be wanting, he can create com- 
forts, not only out of nothing but out of discomforts ; 
he made the whale that swallowed up Jonas a means 
to bring him to the shore, Jonah i. 17. The sea was 
a wall to the Israehtes on both sides : the devouring 
flames were a great refreshing to the three children 
in the fiery furnace, Dan. iii ; that trouble which we 
think will swallow us up, may be a means to bring us 
to our haven ; so mighty is God in power, and so ex- 
cellent in working, Isaiah xxviii. 29. God then, and 
God only is a fit foundation for the soul to build itself 
upon, for the firmer the foundation is, the stronger 
will the building be, therefore those that will build 
high must dig deep : the higher the tree riseth, the 
deeper the root spreadeth and fasteneth itself below. 
So it is in faith, if the foundation thereof be not firm, 
the soul cannot build itself strongly upon it ; faith 


liatli a double principle to build on, either a principle 
of being, or a principle of knowing ; the principle of 
being is God himself, the principle of knowing is God's 
word, whereby God cometh forth (out of that hidden 
light which none can attain unto) and discovereth 
his meaning towards us for our good. 

This then must, 1. be supposed for a ground, that 
there is a God, and that God is, that is, hath a full 
and eternal being and giveth a being, and an order 
of being, to all things else ; some things have only a 
being, some things hfe and being, some things sense 
&c. and some things have a more excellent being, in- 
cluding all the former, as the being of creatures in- 
dued with reason ; if God had not a being, nothing 
else could be : in things subordinate one to another, 
take away the first, and you take away all the rest : 
therefore this proposition (God is) is the first truth of 
all, and if this were not, nothing else should be : as 
we see if the heavenly bodies do not move, there is 
no motion here below. 

2. In the divine nature or being, there is a subsisting 
of three persons, every one to set out unto us, as fitted 
for us to trust in ; the Father as a Creator, the Son 
as a Redeemer, the Holy Ghost as a Comforter, and 
all this in reference to us : God in the first person 
hath decreed the great work of our salvation, and all 
things tending to the accomplishment of it ; God in 
the second person hath exactly and fully answered 
that decree and plot, in the work of our redemption ; 
God in the third person discovers and applies all unto 
us, and fits us for communion with the Father and 
the Son from whom he proceeds. 

3. God cannot be comfortably thought upon out 
of Christ our Mediator, in whom he was reconciling 

156 THE soul's conflict. 

the world to himself, 1 Cor. v. 19, as being a friend 
both to God and us, and therefore fit to bring God 
and the soul together, being a middle person in the 
Trinity ; in Christ God's nature becomes lovely to us, 
and ours to God : otherwise there is an utter enmity 
betwixt his pure and our impure nature : Christ hath 
made up the vast gulf between God and us ; there 
is nothing more terrible to think on, than an absolute 
God out of Christ. 

4. Therefore for the better drawing of us to trust 
in God, we must conceive of him under the sweet re- 
lation of a father ; God's nature is fatherly now unto 
us, and therefore lovely. 

5. And for further strengthening our faith it is need- 
ful to consider what excellencies the Scripture giveth 
unto God, answerable to all our necessities, what 
sweet names God is pleased to be known unto us by 
for our comfort, as a merciful, gracious, long-suffer- 
ing God, &c. Exod. xxxiv. 6. 

When Moses desired to see the glory of God, God 
thus manifested himself, in the way of goodness, / 
will make all my goodness pass before thee, Exod. 
xxxiii. 16. 

Whatsoever is good in the creature is first in God 
as a fountain; and it is in God in a more eminent 
manner and fuller measure. All grace and holiness, 
all sweetness of affection, all power and wisdom, &c. 
as it is in him, so it is from him, and we come to 
conceive these properties to be in God, 1. by feeling 
the comfort and power of them in ourselves ; 2. by 
observing these things in their measure to be in the 
best of the creatures, whence we arise to take notice 
of what grace and what love, what strength and wis- 
dom, &c. is in God, by the beams of these which 


we see in his creature, with adding in our thoughts 
fulness pecuhar to God, and abstracting imperfection, 
incident to the creature ; for that is in God in the 
highest degree, the sparkles whereof it is but in us. 

6. Therefore it is fit that unto all other eminences 
in God, we should strengthen our faith by considering 
those glorious singularities, which are altogether in- 
communicable to the creature, and which give strength 
to his other properties, as that God is not only gra- 
cious and loving, powerful, wise, &c. but that he is 
infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably so. All which 
are comprised in and drawn from that one name Je- 
hovah, as being of himself, and giving a being to all 
things else, of nothing ; and able when it pleaseth 
him to turn all things to nothing again. 

7. As God is thus, so he makes it good by answer- 
able actions and dealing towards us, by his continual 
providence ; the consideration whereof is a great stay 
to our faith, for by this providence God makes use of 
all his former excellencies for his people's good : for the 
more comfortable apprehension of which, it is good to 
know that God's providence is extended as far as his 
creation. Every creature, in every element and place 
whatsoever, receiveth a powerful influence from God, 
who doth what pleaseth him, both in Heaven and earth, 
in the sea, and all places ; but we must know, God 
doth not put things into a frame, and then leave them 
to their own motion as we do clocks, after we have 
once set them right, and ships after we have once 
built them, commit them to wind and waves; but 
as he made all things, and knows all things, so, by a 
continued kind of creation, he preserves all things in 
their being and working, and governs them to their 
ends ; he is the first mover that sets all the v/heels of 


the creature aworking : one wheel may move another, 
but all are moved by the first. If God moves not, the 
clock of the creature stands. If God should not up- 
hold things, they would presently fall (to nothing) 
from whence they came. If God should not guide 
things, Satan's malice, and man's weakness, would 
soon bring all to a confusion. If God did not rule 
the great family of the world, all would break and fall 
to pieces, whereas the wise providence of God keep- 
eth every thing on its right hinges. All things stand 
in obedience to this providence of God, and nothing 
can withdraw itself from under it; if the creature 
withdraw itself from one order of providence, it falls 
into another ; if man (the most unruly and disordered 
creature of all) withdraw himself from God's gracious 
government of him to happiness, he will soon fall un- 
der God's just government of him to deserved misery ; 
if he shakes off God's sweet yoke, he puts himself 
under Satan's heavy yoke, who, as God's executioner, 
hardens him to destruction ; and so whilst he rushes 
against God's will, he fulfills it. And whilst he will 
not willingly do God's will, God's will is done upon 
him against his will. 

The most casual things fall under providence, yea, 
the most disordered thing in the world, sin, and (of 
sins the most horrible that ever the sun beheld) the 
crucifying of the Lord of life, was guided by a hand 
of providence to the greatest good. For that which is 
casual in regard of a second cause, is not so in regard 
of the first, whose providence is most clearly seen in 
casual events that fall out by accident, for in these 
the effect cannot be ascribed to the next cause ; God 
is said to kill him, who was unwarily slain by the 
falling of an axe or some instrument of death, Deut^ 
xix. 5. 


And though man hath a freedom in working, and 
of all men, the hearts of kings are most free, yet even 
these are guided by an overruling power, Prov. xxi. 
1, as the rivers of water are carried in their channels, 
whither skilful men list to derive them. 

For settling of our faith the more, God taketh liberty 
in using weak means, to great purposes, and setting 
aside more likely and able means, yea, sometimes he 
altogether disableth the greatest means, and worketh 
often by no means at all. It is not for want of 
power in God but from abundance and multiplying 
of his goodness that he useth any means at all : there 
is nothing that he doth by means, but he is able to do 
without means. 

Nay, God often bringeth his will to pass by cross- 
ing the course and stream of means, to show his own 
sovereignty, and to exercise our dependence; and 
maketh his very enemies, the accomplishers of his 
own will, and so, to bring about that which they op- 
pose most. Hence it is that we believe under hope 
against hope, Psahn cxxxv. 6. 

But we must know, God's manner of guiding things 
is without prejudice of the proper working of the 
things themselves ; he guideth them sweetly accord- 
ing to the instincts he hath put into them ; for, 

1. He furnishes creatures with a virtue and power 
to work, and hkewise with a manner of working suit- 
able to their own nature, as it is proper for a man, 
when he works, to work with freedom, and other 
creatures by natural instinct, &c. 

2. God maintaineth both the power and manner of 
working, and perfecteth and accomphsheth the same 

I by acting of it, being nearer to us in all we do, than 


abilities and actions, to this or that particular, as he 
seeth best. 4. He suspends or removes the hinder- 
ances of all actions, and so, powerfully, wisely, and 
sweetly orders them to his own ends. When any evil 
is intended, God either puts bars and lets to the exe- 
cution of it, or else limiteth and boundeth the same, 
both in regard of time and measure, so that our ene- 
mies either shall not do the evil at all, or else not so 
long a time, or not in such a height of mischief, as 
their malice would carry them to : the rod of the 
wicked may light upon the back of the righteous, 
Psalm cxxv. 3, but it shall not rest there ; God knows 
how to take our enemies off, sometimes by changing, 
or stopping their wills, by oiFering considerations of 
some good or ill, danger or profit to them ; sometimes 
by taking away, and weakening all their strength, or 
else by opposing an equal or greater strength against 
it. All the strength our enemies have rests in God : 
who if he denies concourse and influence, the arm of 
their power (as Jeroboam's, when he stretched it out 
against the prophet) shrinks up presently. 

God is not only the cause of things and actions, 
but the cause likewise of the cessation of them, why 
they fall not out at all. God is the cause why things 
are not, as well as why they are ; the cause why men 
favour us not, or, when they do favour us, want pre- 
sent wisdom and ability to help us, is from God's 
withdrawing the concurrence of his light and strength 
from them. If a skilful physician doth us no good, 
it is because it pleaseth God to hide the right way of 
curing at that time from him. Which should move 
us to see God in all that befalls us, who hath suffi- 
cient reason, as to do what he doth, so not to do 
what he doth not, to hinder, as well as to give way. 


The God of spirits hath an influence into the spi- 
rits of men, into the principles and springs of all 
actions ; otherwise he could not so certainly foretell 
things to come. God had a work in Absalom's heart 
in that he refused the best counsel ; there is nothing 
independent of him, who is the mover of all things, 
and himself unmoveable. 

Nothing so high, that is above his providence; 
nothing so low, that is beneath it ; nothing so large, 
but is bounded by it ; nothing so confused, but God 
can order it ; nothing so bad, but he can draw good 
out of it ; nothing so wisely plotted, but God can 
disappoint it, as AchitopheFs counsel; nothing so 
simply and unpoliticly carried, but he can give a pre- 
vaiUng issue unto it ; nothing so freely carried, in re- 
gard of the next cause, but God can make it neces- 
sary in regard of the event ; nothing so natural, but 
he can suspend it in regard of operation, as heavy 
bodies from sinking, fire from burning, &c. 

It cannot but bring strong security to the soul, to 
know that in all variety of changes and intercourse of 
good and bad events, God and our God, hath such 
a disposing hand. Whatsoever befalls us, all serves 
to bring God's electing love, and our glorification to- 
gether, God's providence serveth his purpose to save 
us. All suflTerings, all blessings, all ordinances, all 
graces, all common gifts, nay, our very falls, yea, 
Satan himself with all his instruments, as over-mas- 
tered, and ruled by God, have this injunction upon 
them to further God's good intendment to us and a 
prohibition to do us no harm. Augustus taxed the 
world for civil ends, but God's providence used this 
as a means for Christ to be born at Bethlehem, 
Esther vi. 1. Ahasuerus could not sleep, and there- 


upon calls for the chronicles, the reading* of which 
occasioned the Jews* deHvery. God oft disposeth 
little occasions to great purposes. And by those^ 
very ways whereby proud men have gone about to 
withstand God's counsels, they have fulfilled them, 
as we see in the story of Joseph and Moses, in the 
timig wherein they dealt proudly y He was above 
them, Exod. x. 11. 


Of Graces to be exercised in respect of Divine 

WE are under a providence that is above our 
own ; which should be a ground unto us, of 
exercising those graces that tend to settle the soul in 
all events. As, 

1. Hence to lay our hand upon our mouths, and 
command the soul an holy silence, not daring to yield 
to the least rising of our hearts against God. / was 
dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst 
it. Psalm xxxix. 9, saith David. Thus Aaron when 
he had lost his two sons, both at once, and that by 
fire, Lev. x. 1,2, and by fire from heaven, which car- 
ried an evidence of God's great displeasure with it, 
yet held his peace. In this silence and hope is our 
strength. Flesh and blood is prone to expostulate 
with God, and to question his deahng, as we see in 
Gideon, Jeremy, Asaph, Habakkuk, and others. If 
the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen 
us ? but after some struggling between the flesh and 
the spirit the conclusion will be, yet howsoever mat- 
ters go, God is good to Israel, Psalm Ixxiii. 1. 
Where a fearful spirit, and a melancholy temper, a 


weak judgment, and a scrupulous and raw conscience 
meet in one, there Satan and his, together with men's 
own hearts, which hke sophisters are continually ca- 
villing against themselves, breed much disquiet, and 
make the life uncomfortable. Such therefore should 
have a special care as to grow in knowledge, so to 
stick close to sure and certain grounds, and bring 
their consciences to the rule. Darkness causeth 
fears. The more light, the more confidence. When 
we yield up ourselves to God, we should resolve upon 
quietness, and if the heart stirs, presently use this 
check of David, Why art thou disquieted ? 

God's ways seem oft to us full of contradictions, 
because his course is to bring things to pass by con- 
trary means. There is a mystery not only in God's 
decree concerning man's eternal estate, but likewise 
in his providence, as why he should deal unequally 
with men, otherwise equal. His judgments are a 
great depth, which we cannot fathom, but they will 
swallow up our thoughts and understandings. God 
oft wraps himself in a cloud, and will not be seen till 
afterward. Where we cannot trace him, we ought 
with Saint Paul to admire and adore him. When we 
are in heaven, it will be one part of our happiness, to 
see the harmony of those things that seem now con- 
fused unto us. All God's dealings will appear beau- 
tiful in their due seasons, though we for the present 
see not the contiguity and linking together of one 
thing with another. 

2. Hence likewise proceeds a holy resigning of our- 
selves to God, who doth all things according to the 
counsel of his own will. His will is a wise will, it 
is guided by counsel, a sovereign prevailing will. 
The only way to have our will is to bring it to God's 

164 THE soul's conflict. 

will. If we could delight in him, we should have our 
heart's desire. Thus David yields up himself to God ; 
Here I am, let the Lord deal with me as seemeth 
good unto him, 2 Sam. xv. 26. And thus Eli, when 
God foretold by Samuel the ruin of his house, quiets 
himself, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him 
good, 1 Sam. iii. 18. Thus our blessed Saviour stays 
himself. Not my will, but thy will be done. And 
thus the people of God, when Paul was resolved to 
go to Jerusalem, submitted, saying. The will of the 
Lord be done. Acts xxi. 14 ; a speech fit to proceed 
out of the heart and mouth of a Christian. 
. We may desire and long after a change of our con- 
dition, when we look upon the grievance itself, but 
yet remember still that it be with reservation, when 
we look upon the will of God, as, Hoiv long, Lord, 
holy and true, &c. Rev. vi. 10. Out of inferior rea- 
sons we may with our Saviour desire a removal of the 
cup ; but when we look to the supreme reason of 
reasons, the will of God, here we must stoop and kiss 
the rod. Thus humbling ourselves under his mighty 
hand, w^hich by murmuring and fretting we may make 
more heavy, but not take off, still adding new guilt 
and puUing on new judgments. 

3. The way patiently to suffer God's will, is to 
inure ourselves first to do it. Passive obedience 
springs from active. He that endures any thing will 
endure it quietly, when he knows it is the will of God, 
and considers that whatever befalls him comes from 
his good pleasure. Those that have not inured them- 
selves to the yoke of obedience, will never endure 
the yoke of suffering, they fume and rage as a wild 
boar in a net, as the prophet speaks. It is worth 
the considering, to see two men of equal parts un- 
der the same cross, how quietly and calmly the onq 

THE soul's conflict. 165 

that establisheth his soul on Christ will bear his afflic- 
tions, whereas the other rageth as a fool, and is more 

Nothing should displease us that pleaseth God : 
neither should any thing be pleasing to us that dis- 
pleaseth him. This conformity is the ground of com- 
fort. Our own will takes away God, as much as in 
it lies. If we acknowledge God in all our ways, he 
will direct our paths, and lead us the way that tve 
should go, Prov. iii. 6. The quarrel betwixt God 
and us is taken up, when his will and our will are 
one ; when we have sacrificed ourselves, and our wills 
unto God ; when, as he is highest in himself, so his 
will hath the highest place in our hearts. We find 
by experience, that when our wills are so subdued, that 
we delight to do what God would have us do, and to 
be what God would have us be, that then sweet peace 
presently riseth to the soul. 

When we can say. Lord, if thou wilt have me poor 
and disgraced, I am content to be so : if thou wilt 
have me serve thee in this condition I am in, I will 
gladly do so. It is enough to me that thou wouldst 
have it so. I desire to yield readily, humbly, and 
cheerfully, to thy disposing providence. Thus a godly 
man says Amen to God's Ame7i, and puts hisj^a^ and 
placet to God's. As the sea turns all rivers into its 
own relish, so he turns all to his own spirit, and makes 
whatsoever befalls him, an exercise of some virtue. A 
heathen could say, that calamities did rule over men, 
but a wise man hath a spirit overruling all calamities ; 
much more a Christian. For a man to be in this 
estate is to enjoy heaven in the world under heaven ; 
God's kingdom comes where his will is thus done 
and sufiered. 

None feel more sweet experience of God's provi- 

166 THE soul's conflict. 

dence than those that are most resolute in their obe- 
dience. After we have ^ven glory to God in relying 
upon his wisdom, power, and truth, we shall find him 
employing these for our direction, assistance, and 
bringing about of things to our desired issue, yea, 
above whatever we looked for, or thought of. 

In all cases that fall out, or that we can put to 
ourselves, as in case of extremity, apposition, strange 
accidents, desertion, and damps of spirit, ^c. here we 
may take sanctuary, that we are in covenant with 
him who sits at the stern, and rules all, and hath 
committed the government of all things to his Son, 
our brother, our Joseph, the second person in heaven. 
We may be sure no hurt shall befall us, that he can 
hinder; and what cannot he hinder that hath the 
keys of hell and of death ? unto whom we are so 
near that he carries our names in his breast, and on 
his shoulders y as the high priest did those of the 
twelve tribes. Though his church seems a widow 
neglected, yet he will make the world know that she 
hath a husband will right her in his good time. 

But it may be demanded, What course is to be 
taken for guidance of our lives in particular actions, 
7vherein doubts may arise what is most agreeable to 
the will of God ? 

1. We must not put all carelessly upon a provi- 
dence, but first consider what is our part, and so far 
as God prevents us with light, and affords us helps 
and means, we must not be faihng in our duty. We 
should neither outrun, nor be wanting to providence. 
But in perplexed cases, where the reasons on both 
sides seem to be equally balanced, see whether part 
make more for the main end, the glory of God, the 
service of others, and advancement of our own spi- 


ritual good. Some things are so clear and even, that 
there is not a best between them, but one may be 
done as well as the other, as when two ways equally 
tend to one and the same place. 

2. We are not our oiun, and therefore must not set 
up ourselves. We must not consult with flesh and 
blood either in ourselves or others, for self-love will 
deprave all our actions, by setting before us corrupt 
ends. It considers not what is best, but what is 
safest. By-respects sway the balance the wrong way. 

3. When thmgs are clear, and God's will is mani- 
fest, further deliberation is dangerous, and for the 
most part argues a false heart ; as we see in Balaam, 
who though he knew God's mind, yet would be still 
consulting, till God in judgment gave him up to what 
his covetous heart led him unto. A man is not fit to 
deliberate till his heart be purged of false aims ; for 
else God will give him to the darkness of his own spi- 
rit, and he will be always warping, unfit for any bias. 
Where the aims are good, there God delighteth to re- 
veal his good pleasure. Such a soul is level and suit- 
able to any good counsel that shall be given, and 
prepared to entertain it. In what measure any lust 
is favoured, in that measure the soul is darkened. 
Even wise Solomon, whilst he gave way to his lust, 
had like to have lost his wisdom. 

We must look to our place wherein God hath set 
us ; if we be in subjection to others, their authority 
ought to sway with us. Neither is it the calling of 
those that are subjects, to enquire over curiously into 
the mysteries of government ; for that, both in peace 
and war, breeds much disturbance, and would trouble 
all designs. 

The laws under which we live, are particular de- 

168 THE soul's conflict. 

terminations of the law of God in some duties of the 
second table. For example ; the law of God says. 
Exact no more than what is thy due. But what in 
particular is thy due, and what another man's, the 
laws of men determine, and therefore ouo:ht to be a 
rule unto us so far as they reach ; though it be too 
narrow a rule to be good only so far as man's laws 
guide unto. Yet law being the joint reason and con- 
sent of many men for pubhc good, hath a use for 
guidance of all actions that fall under the same. 
Where it dash not against God's law, what is agree- 
able to law is agreeable to conscience. 

The law of God in the due enlargement of it, to the 
least beginning and occasions, is exceeding broad, 
and allows of whatsoever stands with the light of rea- 
son, or the bonds of humanity, civility, &c. and what- 
soever is against these is so far against God's law. 
So that higher rules be looked to in the first place, 
there is nothing lovely, or praiseworthy among men, 
but ought to be seriously thought on. 

Nature of itself is wild and untamed, and impatient 
of the yoke ; but as beasts that cannot endure the 
yoke at first, after they are inured awhile unto it bear 
it willingly, and carry their work more easily by it ; 
so the yoke of obedience makes the life regular and 
quiet. The meeting of authority and obedience toge- 
ther maintains the order and peace of the world. 

So of that question. 

Though blindfold obedience, such as our adversa- 
ries would have, be such as will never stand with sound 
peace of conscience, which always looks to have light 
to direct it (for else a bUnd conscience would breed 
blind fears) ; yet in such doubtful cases wherein we can- 
not wind out ourselves, we ought to light our candles 


at Others whom we have cause to think by their place 
and parts should see further than we. In matters of 
outward estate, we will have men skilful, of our coun- 
sel ; and Christians would find more sound peace, if 
they would advise with their godly and learned pastors 
and friends. Where there is not a direct word, there 
is place for the counsel of a prudent man. And it is 
a happiness for them whose business is much, and 
parts not large, to have the benefit of those that can 
give aim, and see further than themselves. The 
meanest Christian understands his own way, and 
knows how to do things with better advantage to his 
soul than a graceless though learned man ; yet is still 
glad of further discovery. In counsel there is peace, 
the thoughts being thus established. 

When we have advised and served God's provi- 
dence in the use of means, then if it fall out otherwise 
than we look for, we may confidently conclude, that 
God would not have it so, otherwise to our grief we 
may say, it was the fruit of our own rashness. 

Where we have cause to think that we have used 
better means in the search of grounds, and are more 
free from partial affections than others, there we may 
use our own advice more safely. Otherwise what we 
do by consent from others, is more secure and less 
offensive, as being more countenanced. 

In advice with others, it is not sufficient to be ge- 
nerally wise, but experienced and knowing in that we 
ask, which is an honour to God's gifts where we find 
them in any kind. When we set about things in 
passion, we work not as men or Christians, but in a 
bestial manner. The more passion, the less discre- 
tion ; because passion hinders the sight of what is to 
be done. It clouds the soul, and puts it on to action 

170 THE soul's conflict. 

without advisement. Where passions are subdued, 
and the soul purged and cleared, there is nothing to 
hinder the impression of God's Spirit ; the soul is 
fitted as a clean glass to receive light from above. 
And that is the reason why mortified men are fittest 
to advise with in the particular cases incident to a 
Christian life. 

After all advice, extract what is fittest ; and what 
our spirits do most bend unto : for in things that 
concern ourselves, God affords a light to discern out 
of what is spoken, what best suiteth us. And every 
man is to follow most what his own conscience (after 
information) dictates unto him ; because conscience 
is God's deputy in us, and under God most to be re- 
garded, and whosoever sins against it, in his own 
construction sins against God. God vouchsafeth 
every Christian in some degree, the grace of spiritual 
prudence, whereby they are enabled to discern what 
is fittest to be done in things that fall within their 

It is good to observe the particular becks of provi- 
dence, how things join and meet together : fit occa- 
sions and suiting of things are intimations of God's 
will. Providence hath a language, which is well un- 
derstood by those that have a familiar acquaintance 
with God's dealing, they see a train of providence, 
leading one way more than to another. 

Take especial heed of not grieving the Spirit, when 
he oflPers to be our guide, by studying evasions, and 
wishing the case were otherwise. This is to be law- 
givers to ourselves, thinking that we are wiser than 
God, the use of discretion is not to direct us about 
the end, whether we should do well or ill (for a single 
heart always aims at good) ; but when we resolve 

THE soul's conflict. 171 

upon doing well, and yet doubt of the manner how 
to perform it, discretion looks not so much to what is 
lawful (for that is taken for granted), but what is most 
expedient. A discreet man looks not to what is 
best, so much as what is fittest in such and such re- 
spects, by eying circumstances, which, if they sort not, 
do vary the nature of the thing itself. 

And because it is not in man to know his own 
ways, we should look up unto Christ, the great Coun- 
sellor of his Church, to vouchsafe the spirit of counsel 
and direction to us ; that may make our way plain 
before us, by suggesting unto us, this is the way, 
walk in it. We owe God this respect, to depend 
upon him for direction in the particular passages of 
our lives, in regard that he is our sovereign, and his 
will is the rule, and we are to be accountable to him 
as our judge. It is God only that can see through 
businesses, and all helps and lets that stand about. 

After we have rolled ourselves upon God, we 
should immediately take that course he inclines our 
hearts unto, without further distracting fear. Other- 
wise it is a sign we commit not our way to hiniy when 
we do not quietly trust him, but remain still as 
thoughtful, as if we did not trust him. After prayer 
and trust follows the peace of God, Phil. ii. 4, and a 
heart void of further dividing care. We should there- 
fore presently question our hearts, for questioning his 
care, and not regard what fear will be ready to sug- 
gest, for that is apt to raise conclusions against our- 
selves, out of self-conceited grounds, whereby we 
usurp upon God, and wrong ourselves. 

It was a good resolution of the three young men in 
Daniel, We are not careful to answer thee, king, 
Dan. iii. We know our duty, let God do with us as 

172 THE soul's conflict. 

he pleaseth. If Abraham had hearkened to the voice 
of nature, he would never have resolved to sacrifice 
Isaac, but because he cast himself upon God's pro- 
viding, God in the mount provided a ram instead of 
his son. 


Other grounds of trusting in God: namely ^ the Pro- 
mises. And twelve directions about the same, 

§ I. T)UT for the better setthng of our trust in 
jLJ God, a further discovery is necessary than 
of the nature and providence of God ; for though the 
nature of God be written in the book of the creatures 
in so great letters, as he that runs may read ; and 
though the providence of God appears in the order 
and use of things : yet there is another book whereby 
to know the will of God towards us, and our duty to- 
wards him : we must therefore have a knowledge of 
the promises of God, as well as of his providence, for 
though God hath discovered himself most graciously 
in Christ unto us, yet had we not a word of promise, 
we could not have the boldness to build upon Christ 
himself; therefore, from the same grounds, that there 
is a Gody there must be a reveaUng of the will of God, 
for else we can never have any firm trust in him fur- 
ther than he offers himself to be trusted ; therefore 
hath God opened his heart to us in his word, and 
reached out so many sweet promises for us to lay hold 
on, and stooped so low, by gracious condescending 
mixed with authority, as to enter into a covenant 
with us to perform all things for our good : for pro- 
mises are, as it were, the stay of the soul in an im- 
perfect condition, and so is faith in them until all 


promises shall end in performance, and faith in sight, 
and hope in possession. 

Now these promises are, 1. for their spring from 
whence they proceed, yree engagements of God ; for if 
he had not bound himself, who could ? and 2. they are 
for their value precious ; and 3. for their extent large, 
even of all things that conduce to happiness ; and 4. 
for their virtue quickening and strengthening the soul, 
as coming from the love of God, and conveying that 
love unto us by his Spirit in the best fruits thereof; 
and 5. for their certainty, they are as sure as the love of 
God in Christ is, upon which they are founded, and 
from which nothing can separate us, Rom. viii. 39. 
For all promises are either Christ himself, the pro- 
mised seed, or else they are of good things made to us 
in him and for him, and accomplished for his sake ; 
they are all made first to him as heir of the promise, 
as Angel of the Covenant, as head of his body, and 
as our elder brother, &c. for promises being the fruits 
of God's love, and God's love being founded first on 
Christ, it must needs follow that all the promises are 
both made, and made good to us in and through him, 
who is yesterday and to-day, and for ever the same, 
Heb. xiii. 8. 

That we should not call God's love into question, 
he not only gives us his word, but a binding word, his 
promise; and not only a naked promise, but hath 
entered into covenant with us, founded upon full 
satisfaction by the blood of Christ, and unto this co- 
venant sealed by the blood of the Lord Jesus, he hath 
added the seals of sacraments, and unto this he hath 
added his oath, that there might be no place left of 
doubting to the distrustful heart of man ; there is no 
way of securing promises amongst men, but God hath 

174 THE soul's conflict. 

taken the same to himself, and all to this end that 
we might not only know his mind towards us, but be 
fully persuaded of it, that as verily as he lives, he will 
make good whatever he hath promised for the comfort 
of his children. What greater assurance can there 
be, than for being itself to lay his being to pawn ? 
and for life itself to lay hfe to pawn, and all to com- 
fort a poor soul ? 

The boundless and restless desire of man's spirit 
will never be stayed without some discovery of the 
chief good, and the way to attain the same : men 
would have been in darkness about their final con- 
dition, and the way to please God, and to pacify and 
purge their consciences, had not the word of God set 
down the spring and cause of all evil, together with 
the cure of it, and directed us how to have commu- 
nion with God, and to raise ourselves above all the 
evil which we meet withal betwixt us and happiness, 
and to make us every way wise to salvation. Hence 
it is that the psalmist prefers the manifestation of 
God by his word, before the manifestation of him in 
his most glorious works, Psalm xix. 7. 

And thus we see the necessity of a double principle 
for faith to rely on : 1. God, and 2. the word of God 
reveaUng his will unto us, and directing us to make 
use of all his attributes, relations, and providence for 
our good ; and this word hath its strength from him 
who gives a being and an accomplishment unto it ; 
for words are as the authority of him that uttereth 
them is ; when we look upon a grant in the word of a 
king, it stays our minds, because we know he is able 
to make it good ; and why should it not satisfy our 
souls to look upon promises in the word of a God ? 
whose words, as they come from his truth and ex- 

THE soul's conflict. 175 

press his goodness, so they are all made good by his 
power and wisdom. 

By the bare word of God it is that the heavens 
continue, and the earth (without any other foundation) 
hangs in the midst of the world, therefore well may 
the soul stay itself on that, even when it hath nothing 
else in sight to rely upon ; by his word it is that the 
covenant of day and night, and the preservation of 
the world from any further overflowing of waters 
continueth ; which if it should fail, yet his covenant 
with his people shall abide firm for ever, though the 
whole frame of nature were dissolved. 

When we have thus gotten a fit foundation for th^ 
soul to lay itself upon, our next care must be (by 
trusting) to build on the same ; all our misery is 
either in having a false foundation, or else in loose 
building upon a true ; therefore having so strong a 
ground as God's nature, his providence, his promise, 
&c. to build upon, the only way for establishing our 
souls is, by trust, to rely firmly on him. 

Now the reason why trust is so much required, is 
because 1. it emptieth the soul, and 2. by emptying 
enlargeth it, and 3. seasoneth and fitteth the soul to 
join with so gracious an object, and 4. filleth it by 
carrying it out of itself unto God, who presently, so 
soon as he is trusted in, conveys himself and his 
goodness to the soul ; and thus we come to have the 
comfort, and God the glory of all his excellencies. 
Thus salvation comes to be sure unto us, whilst faith, 
looking to the promises, and to God freely offering 
grace therein, resigns up itself to God, making no 
further question from any unworthiness of its own. 

And thus we return to God by cleaving to him, 
from whom we fell by distrust, living under a new 

176 THE soul's conflict. 

covenant merely of grace, Jer, xxxi. 3 ; and no grace 
fitter than that which gives all to Christ, considering 
the fountain of all our good is (out of ourselves) in 
him, it being safest for us, who were so ill husbands 
at the first, that it should be so, therefore it is fit we 
should have use of such a grace that will carry us out 
of ourselves to the spring head. 

The way then whereby faith quieteth the soul, is by 
raising it above all discontentments and storms here 
below, and pitching it upon God, thereby uniting it 
to him, whence it draws virtue to oppose and bring 
under whatsoever troubles its peace. For the soul is 
made for God, and never finds rest till it returns to 
him again ; when God and the soul meet, there will 
follow contentment ; God, simply considered, is not 
all our happiness, but God as trusted in ; and Christ 
as we are made one with him. Matt. ix. 20 ; the soul 
cannot so much as touch the hem of Christ's gar- 
ment, but it shall find virtue coming from him to 
sanctify and settle it ; God in Christ is full of all that 
is good ; when the soul is emptied, enlarged, and 
opened by faith to receive goodness oftered, there 
must needs follow sweet satisfaction. 

§ II. For the better strengthening of our trust it is 
not sufficient that we trust in God and his truth re- 
vealed, but we must do it by light and strength from 
him : many believe in the truth by human argu- 
ments, but no arguments will convince the soul but 
such as are fetched from the inward nature, and pow- 
erful work of truth itself; no man can know God, 
but by God ; none can know the sun, but by its own 
light; none can know the truth of God (so as to 
build upon it) but by the truth itself and the Spirit 


revealing it by its own light to the soul ; that soul 
which hath felt the power of truth in casting it down, 
and raising it up again, will easily be brought to rest 
upon it; it is neither education, nor the authority of 
others that profess the same truth, or that we have 
been so taught by men of great parts, &c. will settle 
the heart ; until we find an inward power and autho- 
rity in the truth itself shining in our hearts by its own 
beams ; hence comes unsettledness in time of troubles, 
because we have not a spiritual discerning of spiritual 
things. Supernatural truths must have a supernatu- 
ral power to apprehend them, therefore God createth 
a spiritual eye and hand of the soul, which is faith. 

In those that are truly converted, all saving truths 
are transcribed out of the Scripture into their hearts, 
they are taught of God, Isa. liv. 13 ; so as they find 
all truths both concerning the sinful estate, and the 
gracious and happy estate of man in themselves ; they 
carry a divinity in them and about them, so as from a 
saving feehngthey can speak of conversion, of sin, of 
grace, and the comforts of the Spirit, &c. and from 
this acquaintance are ready to yield and give up 
themselves to truth revealed and to God speaking by 
it. Trust is never sound but upon a spiritual convic- 
tion of the truth and goodness we rely upon, for the 
effecting of which the Spirit of God must likewise 
subdue the rebellion and mahce of our will, that so it 
may be suitable and level to divine things, and relish 
them as they are; we must apprehend the love of 
God and the fruits of it as better than life itself, and 
then choosing and cleaving to the same will soon fol- 
low ; for as there is a fitness in divine truths to all 
the necessities of the soul, so the soul must be fitted 
by them to savour and apply them to itself; and 


178 THE soul's conflict. 

then from a harmony between the soul and that 
which it appHes itself unto, there will follow not only 
peace in the soul, but joy and delight surpassing any 
contentment in the world besides. 

As there is in God to satisfy the whole soul, so 
trust carries the whole soul to God ; this makes trust 
not so easy a matter, because there must be an exer- 
cise of every faculty of the soul, or else our trust is 
imperfect and lame, there must be a knowledge of him 
whom we trust, and why we trust an affiance and 
love, &c. Only they that know God will trust in 
him ; not that knowledge alone is sufficient, but be- 
cause the sweetness of God's love is let into the soul 
thereby, wiiich draweth the whole soul to him ; we 
are bidden to trust perfectly in God ; therefore see- 
ing we have a God so full of perfection to trust in, 
we should labour to trust perfectly in him. 

And it is good for the exercise of trust to put cases 
to ourselves of things that probably may fall out, and 
then return to our souls to search what strength we 
have if such things should come to pass ; thus David 
puts cases ; perfect faith dares put the hardest cases 
to its soul, and then set God against all that may 
befall it, Psalm iii. 6 ; xlvi. 3 ; xxvii. 3. 

Again, labour to fit the promise to every condition 
thou art in ; there is no condition but hath a promise 
suitable; therefore no condition but wherein God 
may be trusted, because his truth and goodness is al- 
ways the same ; and in the promise, look both to the 
good promised, and to the faithfulness and love of 
the promiser ; it is not good to look upon the diffi- 
culty of the thing we have a promise against, but who 
promiseth it, and for whose sake, and so see all good 
things in Christ made over to us. 

THE soul's conflict. 179 

We should labour likewise for a single heart to trust 
in God only ; there is no readier way to fall than to 
trust equally to two stays, whereof one is rotten, and 
the other sound ; therefore as in point of doctrine we 
are to rely upon Christ only, and to make the Scrip- 
tures our rule only ; so in life and conversation, what- 
ever we make use of, yet we should enjoy and rely 
upon God only ; for either God is trusted alone, or 
not at all ; those that trust to other things with God, 
trust not him but upon pretence to carry their double 
minds with less check. 

Again, labour that thy soul may answer all the re- 
lations wherein it stands to God, by cleaving to him, 
1 . as a Father by trusting on his care, 2. as a Teacher 
by following his direction, 3. as a Creator by depen- 
dence on him, 4. as a Husband by inseparable affec- 
tion of love to him, 5. as a Lord by obedience, &c. 
And then we may with comfort expect whatsoever 
good these relations can yield ? all which God regard- 
ing more our wants and weaknesses, than his own 
greatness, hath taken upon him. Shall these rela- 
tions yield comfort from the creature, and not from 
God himself, in whom they are in their highest per- 
fection ? shall God make other fathers and husbands 
faithful, and not be faithful himself? all our comfort 
depends upon labouring to make these relations good 
to our souls. 

And as we must wholly and only trust in God, so 
likewise we must trust him in all conditions and times, 
for all things that we stand in need of, until that time 
comes, wherein we shall stand in need of nothing : 
for as the same care of God moved him to save us, 
and to preserve us in the world till we be put in pos- 
session of salvation ; so the same faith relies upon 


God for heaven and all necessary provision till we 
come thither; it is the office of faith to quiet our 
souls in all the necessities of this life, and we have 
continual use of trusting while we are here : for even 
when we have thing^s, yet God still keeps the blessing 
of them in his own hands, to hold us in a continual 
dependence upon him : God trains us up this wav, 
by exercising cur trust in lesser matters, to fit us for 
greater; thus it pleaseth God to keep us in a de- 
pending condition until he see his own time ; but so 
good is God that as he intends to give us what we 
w^ait for, so will he give us the grace and spirit of 
faith, to sustain our souls in waiting till we enjoy the 
same. The unruliness of a natural spirit is never dis- 
covered more, than when God defers, therefore we 
should labour the more not to withdraw our attendance 
from God. 

Further, we must know that the condition of a 
Christian in this life, is not to see what he trusts God 
for : he lives by faith, and not by sight : and yet 
that there is such a virtue in faith, which makes evi- 
dent and present, things to come and unseen : because 
God where he gives an eye of faith, gives also a glass 
of the word to see things in, and by seeing of them in 
the truth and power of him that promiseth, they be- 
come present, not only to the understanding to ap- 
prehend them, but to the will to rest upon them, and 
to the affections to joy in them : it is the nature of 
faith to work, when it seeth nothing, and oftentimes 
best of all then, because God shows himself more 
clearly in his power, wisdom, and goodness, at such 
times ; and so his glory shines most, and faith hath 
nothing else to look upon then, whereupon it gathers 
all the forces of the soul together, to fasten upon God, 

THE soul's conflict. 181 

It should therefore be the chief care of a Christian 
to strengthen his faith, that so it may answer God's 
manner of deahng with him in the worst times ; for 
God usually (1. that he might perfectly mortify our 
confidence in the creature, and 2. that he might the 
more endear his favours and make them fresh and 
new unto us, and 3. that the glory of deliverance may 
be entirely his, without the creatures sharing witli 
him, and 4. that our faith and obedience may be tried 
to the uttermost, and discovered) suffers his children 
to fall into o;reat extremities before he will reach forth 
his hand to help them, as in Job's case, &c. There- 
fore Christians should much labour their hearts to 
trust in God in the deepest extremities that may befall 
them, even when no light of comfort appears either 
from within or without, yea then (especially) when all 
other comforts fail ; despair is oft the ground of hope, 
Isa. 1. 10; when the darkness of the night is thickest, 
then the morning begins to dawn ; that which (to a 
man unacquainted with God's dealings) is a ground 
of utter despair, the same (to a man acquainted with 
the ways of God) is a rise of exceeding comfort ; for 
infinite power and goodness can never be at a loss, 
neither can faith which looks to that, ever be at a 
stand, whence it is that both God and faith work best 
alone ; in a hopeless estate a Christian will see some 
door of hope opened, 1. because God shows himself 
nearest to us, when we stand most in need of him ; 
Helpy Lord, for vain is the help of man : God is 
never more seen than in the mount ; He knows our 
souls best, and our souls know him best in adversity. 
Psalm xxxi. 7 ; then he is most wonderful in his 
saints. 2. Because our prayers then are (strong cries) 
fervent and frequent ; God is sure to hear of us at 

182 THE soul's conflict. 

such a time, which pleaseth him well, as delighting to 
hear the voice of his beloved. 

For our better encouragement in these sad times, 
and to help our trust in God the more, we should 
often call to mind the former experiences, which either 
ourselves or others have had of God's goodness, and 
make use of the same for our spiritual good ; Our 
fathers trusted in ^^ee,saith the head of the church, 
and were not confounded ; God's truth and goodness 
is unchangeable, he never leaves those that trust in 
him ; so likewise in our own experiences, we should 
take notice of God's dealings with us in sundry 
kinds; how many ways he hath refreshed us, and 
how good we have found him in our worst times ; 
after we have once tried him and his truth, we may 
safely trust him ; God will stand upon his credit, he 
never failed any yet, and he will not begin to break 
with us ; if his nature and his word, and his former 
dealing hath been sure and square, why should our 
hearts be wavering ? Thy word, saith the Psalmist, is 
very pure (or tried), therefore thy servant loveth it ; 
the word of God is as silver tried in the furnace, pu- 
rified seven times ; it is good therefore to observe and 
lay up God's dealings ; experience is nothing else 
but a multiplied remembrance of former blessings, 
which will help to multiply our faith ; tried truth and 
tried faith unto it, sweetly agree and answer one 
another ; it were a course much tending to the quick- 
ening of the faith of Christians, if they would commu- 
nicate one to another their mutual experiences ; this 
hath formerly been the custom of God's people. Come 
and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare 
what he hath done for my soul ; and David urgeth 
this as a reason to God for deliverance, that then the 


righteous would compass him about, as rejoicing in 
the experience of God's goodness to him ; the want 
of this makes us upon any new trial to call God's care 
and love into question, as if he had never formerly 
been good unto us ; whereas every experiment of 
God's love should refresh our faith upon any fresh 
onset ; God is so good to his children even in this 
world, that he trains them up by daily renewed ex- 
periences of his fatherly care ; for besides those many 
promises of good things to come, he gives us some 
evidence and taste of what we believe here ; that by 
that which we feel we might be strengthened in that 
we look for, that so in both (l. sense of what we feel, 
and 2. certainty of what we look for) we might have 
full support. 

But yet we must trust God, as he will be trusted, 
(namely, in doing good ;) or else we do not trust him 
but tempt him. Our commanding of our souls to 
trust in God, is but an echo of what God commands 
us first ; and therefore in the same manner he com- 
mands us, we should command ourselves. As God 
commands us to trust him in doing good, so should 
we commit our souls to him in well doing, and trust 
him when we are about his own works, and not in the 
works of darkness ; we may safely expect God in his 
ways of mercy, when we are in his ways of obedience ; 
for religion as it is a doctrine of what is to be believed, 
so it is a doctrine according to godliness ; and the 
mysteries of faith are mysteries of godliness, because 
they cannot be believed, but they will enforce a godly 
conversation ; where any true impression of them is, 
there is holiness always bred in that soul ; therefore 
a study of holiness must go jointly together, with a 
study of trusting in God ; faith looks not only to pro- 

184 THE soul's conflict. 

mises, but to directions to duty, and breeds in the 
soul a liking of whatsoever pleaseth God ; there is a 
mutual strengthening in things that are good, trusting 
stirs to duty, and duty strengthens trusting by in- 
creasing our hberty and boldness with God. 

Again, we must maintain in our souls, a high es- 
teem of the grace o^ faith ; the very trial whereof is 
7)iore precious than gold, 1 Pet. i. 7 ; what then is the 
grace of faith itself, and the promises which it layeth 
hold on ? certainly they transcend in worth whatever 
may draw us from God ; whence it is that the soul sets 
a high price upon them, and on faith that believes 
them ; it is impossible that any thing in the world 
should come betwixt the heart and those things, if 
once we truly lay hold on them, to undermine faith 
or the comfort we have by it ; the heart is never 
drawn to any sinful vanity, or frighted with any ter- 
ror of trouble, till faith first loseth the sight and esti- 
mation of divine things, and forgets the necessity and 
excellency of them. Our Saviour, Christ, when he 
would stir up a desire o^ faith in his disciples, Luke 
xvii. 6, showed them the power and excellency of the 
same ; great things stir up faith, and keep it above, 
and faith keeps the soul that nothing else can take 
place of abode in it ; when the great things of God 
are brought into the heart by faith, what is there in 
the whole world that can out-bid them ? assurance 
of these things, upon spiritual grounds, overrules 
both sense and reason, or whatever else prevails with 
carnal hearts. 




Faith to be prized, and other things undervalued, 
at least not to he trusted to as the chief. 

THAT faith may take the better place in the soul 
and the soul in God, the heart must continually 
be taught of what little worth all things else are, as 
reputation, riches, and pleasures, &c. ; and to see 
their nothingness in the word of God, and inexpe- 
rience of ourselves and others, that so our heart 
being weaned from these things, may open itself to 
God, and embrace things of a higher nature ; other- 
wise baser things will be nearer thy soul than faith, 
and keep possession against it, so that faith will not 
be suffered to set up a throne in the heart; there 
must be an unloosing of the heart, as well as a fasten- 
ing of it, and God helps us in both : for, besides the 
word discovering the vanity of all things else out of 
God, the main scope of God's dealing with his chil- 
dren in any danger or affliction whatsoever, is to 
imbitter all other things but himself unto them : in- 
deed it is the power of God properly which makes 
the heart to trust, but yet the Spirit of God useth 
this way to bring all things else out of request with 
us in comparison of those inestimable good things, 
which the soul is created, redeemed, and sanctified 
for ; God is very jealous of our trust, and can endure 
no idol of jealousy to be set up in our hearts. There- 
fore it behoves us to take notice, not only of the de- 
ceitfulness of things, but of the deceitfulness of our 
hearts in the use of them ; our hearts naturally hang 
loose from God, and are soon ready to join with the 
creature ; now the more we observe our hearts in 

186 THE soul's conflict. 

this, the more we take them off, and labour to set 
them where they should be placed ; for the more we 
know these things, the less we shall trust them. 

But may we not trust in riches, and friends, and 
other outward helps at all ? 

Yes, so far as they are subordinate to God, our chief 
stay, with reservation and submission to the Lord ; 
only so far, and so long as it shall please him to use 
them for our good. Because God ordinarily conveys 
his help and goodness to us by some creature ; we 
must trust in God to bless every mercy we enjoy, and 
to make all helps serviceable to his love towards us. 
In a word, we must trust and use them in and under 
God, and so as if all were taken away, yet to think 
God (being all-sufficient) can do without them, what- 
soever he doth by them for our good. Faith preserves 
the chastity of the soul, and cleaving to God is a 
spiritual debt which it oweth to him, whereas cleaving 
to the creature is spiritual adultery. 

It is an error in the foundation to substitute false 
objects either in religion, or in Christian conversation ; 
for 1. in religion trusting in false objects, as saints, 
and works, &c. breeds false worship, and false wor- 
ship breeds idolatry, and so God's jealousy and 
hatred. 2. In Christian conversation false objects of 
trust breed false comforts, and true fears ; for in 
what measure we trust in any thing that is uncertain, 
in the same measure will our grief be when it fails us ; 
the more men rely upon deceitful crutches, the greater 
is their fall ; God can neither endure false objects, 
nor a doable object, as hath been showed, for a man 
to rely upon any thing equally in the same rank with 
himself; for the propounding of a double object, 
argues a double heart, and a double heart is always 

THE soul's conflict. 187 

unsettled, James i. 8, for it will regard God no longer 
than it can enjoy that which it joins together with 
liim ; therefore it is said, you cannot serve two mas- 
ters^ Luke xvi. 13, not subordinate one to another ; 
whence it was that our Saviour told those worldly 
men which followed him : that they could not believe 
in him, because they sought honour one of another, 
Jolm V. 44 ; and in case of competition, if their honour 
and reputation should come into question, they would 
be sure to be false to Christ, and rather part with 
him than their own credit and esteem in the world. 

David here, by charging his soul to trust in God, 
saw there was nothing else tliat could bring true rest 
and quiet unto him ; for whatsoever is besides God, 
is but a creature ; and whatever is in the creature is 
but borrowed, and at God's disposing ; and chang- 
able, or else it were not a creature ; David saw his 
error soon, for the ground of his disquiet was trusting 
something else besides God, therefore when he began 
to say. My hill is strong^ I shall not be moved, Sec, 
Psalm XXX. 6 ; then presently his soul was troubled. 
Out of God there is nothing fit for the soul to stay 
itself upon ; for 

1. Outward things are not fitted to the spiritual 
nature of the soul ; they are dead things and cannot 
touch it being a lively spirit, unless by way of taint. 

2. They are beneath the worth of the soul, and 
therefore debase the soul, and draw it lower than it- 
self. As a noble woman, by matching with a mean 
person, much injures herself, especially when higher 
matches are offered. Earthly things are not given 
for stays wholly to rest on, but for comforts in our 
way to Heaven ; they are no more fit for the soul, 
than that which hath many angles is fit to fill up that 

188 THE soul's conflict. 

which is round, which it cannot do, because of the 
unevenness and void places that will remain ; outward 
things are never so well fitted for the soul, but that 
the soul will presently see some voidness and empti- 
ness in them, and in itself in cleaving to them ; for 
that which shall be a fit object for the soul, must be 

1. for the nature of it spiritual, as the soul itself is ; 

2. constant ; 3. full and satisfying ; 4. of equal con- 
tinuance with it; and 5. always yielding fresh con- 
tents : we cast away flowers, after once we have had 
the sweetness of them, because there is not still a 
fresh supply of sweetness. Whatever comfort is in 
the creature, the soul will spend quickly, and look 
still for more ; whereas the comfort we have in God 
is undefiled andfadeth not away ; how can we trust 
to that for comfort, which by very trusting proves un- 
comfortable to us? outward things are only so far 
forth good, as we do not trust in them ; thorns may 
be touched, but not rested on, for then they will 
pierce ; we must not set our hearts upon things which 
are never evil to us, but when we set our hearts upon 
them, Psalm Ixii. 10. 

By trusting anything but God, we make it 1. an 
idol ; 2. a curse, and not a blessing ; 3. it will prove 
a lying vanity, not yielding that good which we look 
for ; and 4. a vexation, bringing that evil upon us we 
look not for. 

Of all men Solomon was the fittest to judge of this, 
because 1. he had a large heart able to comprehend 
the variety of things ; and 2. being a mighty king, 
had advantages of procuring all outward things that 
might give him satisfaction; and 3. he had a desire 
answerable, to search out and extract whatever good 
the creature could yield ; and yet upon the trial of 


?ill, he passeth this verdict upon all, that they are but 
vanity, Eccles. i. 2 ; whilst he laboured to find that 
which he sought for in them, he had like to have lost 
himself ; and seeking too much to strengthen himself 
by foreign combination, he weakened himself the 
more thereby, until he came to know where the whole 
of man consists, Eccles. xii. 13. So that now we 
need not try further conclusions after the peremptory 
sentence of so wise a man. 

But our nature is still apt to think there is some 
secret good in the forbidden fruit, and to buy wisdom 
dearly when we might have it at a cheaper rate, even 
from former universal experience. 

It is a matter both to be wondered at and pitied, 
that the soul having God in Christ set before it, allur- 
ing it unto him, that he might raise it, enlarge it, and 
till it, and so make it above all other things, should 
yet debase and make itself narrower and weaker, by 
leaning to things meaner than itself. 

The kingdom, sovereignty, and large command of 
man, continueth while he rests upon God, in whom 
he reigns, in some sort, over all things under him ; 
but so soon as he removes from God to anything 
else, he becomes weak and narrow and slavish pre- 
sently ; for, 

The soul is as that which it relies upon ; if on 
vanity, itself becomes vain ; for that which contents 
the soul must satisfy all the wants and desires of it, 
which no particular thing can do, and the soul is 
more sensible of a little thing that it wants, than of 
all other things which it enjoys. 

But see the insufficiency of all other things (out of 
God) to support the soul, in their several degrees. 
First, all outward things can make a man no happier 


than outward things can do, they cannot reach be- 
yond their proper sphere : but our greatest grievances 
are spiritual. And as for inward things, whether 
gifts or graces, they cannot be a sufficient stay for 
the mind ; for 1. gifts as poUcy and wisdom, &c. they 
are at the best very defective, especially when we 
trust in them ; for wisdom makes men often to rebel, 
and thereupon God delighteth to blast their projects : 
none miscarry oftener than men of the greatest parts ; 
as none are oftener drowned than those that are most 
skilful in swimming, because it makes them confi- 

And for grace, though it be the beginning of a new 
creature in us, yet it is but a creature, and therefore 
not to be trusted in, nay, by trusting in it we imbase 
it, and make it more imperfect; so far as there is 
truth of grace, it breeds distrust of ourselves, and 
carries the soul out of itself to the fountain of 

And for any works that proceed from grace, by 
trusting thereunto they prove like the reed of Egypt, 
which not only deceives us, but hurts us with the 
splinters : good works are good, but confidence in 
them is hurtful ; and there is more of our own in 
them (for the most part) to humble us, than of God's 
Spirit to embolden us so far as to trust in them. 
Alas, they have nothing from us but weakness and 
defilement, and therefore since the fall, God would 
have the object of our trust to be (out of ourselves) in 
him ; and to that purpose he useth all means to take 
us out of ourselves, and from the creature, that he 
only might be our trust. 

Yea, we must not trust itself, but God whom it relies 
on, who is therefore called our trust. All the glo- 


rious things that are spoken of trust are only made 
^ood by God in Christ, who, as trusted, doth all 
for us. 

God hath prescribed trust as the way to carry our 
souls to himself, in whom we should only rely, and 
not in our imperfect trust, which hath its ebbing and 
flowing ; neither will trust in God himself for the pre- 
sent suffice us for future strength and grace, as if 
trusting in God to-day would suffice to strengthen us 
for to-morrow ; but we must renew our trust for fresh 
supply, upon every fresh occasion. So that we see 
God alone must be the object of our trust. 

There is still left in man's nature a desire of plea- 
sure, profit, and of whatever the creature presents as 
good, but the desire of gracious good is altogether 
lost, the soul being wholly infected with a contrary 
taste. Man hath a nature capable of excellency, and 
desirous of it, and the Spirit of God in and by the 
word reveals where true excellency is to be had ; but 
corrupt nature leaving God, seeketh it elsewhere, and 
so crosseth its own desires, till the Spirit of God dis- 
covers where these things are to be had, and so nature 
is brought to its right frame again, by turning the 
stream into the right current ; grace and sinful na- 
ture have the same general object of comfort ; only 
sinful nature seeks it in broken cisterns , and grace 
in the fountain ; the beginning of our true happiness 
is from the discovery of true and false objects, so as 
the soul may clearly see what is best and safest, and 
then steadfastly rely upon it. 

It were a happy way to make the soul better ac- - 
quainted with trusting in God, to labour to subdue 
at the first all unruly inclinations of the soul to earthly 
things, and to take advantage of the first tenderness 

1T)2 THE soul's conflict. 

of the soul, to weed out that which is iil, and to plant 
knowledge and love of the best things in it ; other- 
wise where affections to anything below get much 
strength in the soul, it will by little and little be so 
overgrown, that there will be no place left in it, either 
for (object or act) God or trust ; God cannot come 
to take his place in the heart by trust, but where 
the powers of the soul are brought under to regard 
him and those great things he brings with him, above 
all things else in the world besides. 

In these glorious times wherein so great a light 
shineth, whereby so great things are discovered, what 
a shame is it to be so narrow hearted as to fix upon 
present things ; our aims and affections should be 
suitable to the things themselves set before us ; our 
hearts should be more and more enlarged, as things 
are more and more revealed to us ; we see in the 
things of this life, as wisdom and experience increas- 
eth, so our aims and desires increase likewise ; a 
young beginner thinks it a great matter if he have a 
little to begin withal, but as he grows in trading, and 
seeth further ways of getting, his thoughts and de- 
sires are raised higher : children think as children, but 
riper age puts av/ay childishness, when their under- 
standings are enlarged to see what they did not see 
l>efore ; we should never rest till our hearts, according 
to the measure of revelation of those excellent things 
which God hath for us, have answerable apprehension 
of the same. Oh, if we had but faith to answer those 
glorious truths which God hath revealed, what man- 
ner of lives should we lead ! 



Of the Method of trusting in God; and the Trial 
of that Trust. 

LASTLY, to add no more, our trusting in God 
should follow God's order in promising. The 
first promise is of forgiveness of sin to repentant be- 
lievers; next, 2. of healing and sanctifying grace; 
then, 3. the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven to 
them that are sanctified ; 4. and then the promises of 
all things needful in our way to the kingdom, &c. 
Now answerably the soul being enhghtened to see its 
danger, should look first to God's mercy in Christ 
pardoning sin, because sin only divides betwixt God 
and the soul ; next to the promises of grace for the 
leading of a Christian life, for true faith desires heal- 
ing mercy as well as pardoning mercy, and then to 
heaven and all things that may bring us thither. 

By all this we see that it is not so easy a matter as 
the world takes it, to bring God and the soul together 
by trusting on him ; it must be effected by the mighty 
power of God, raising up the soul to himself, to lay 
hold upon the glorious power, goodness, and other 
excellencies that are in him ; God is not only the ob- 
ject, but the working cause of our trust ; for such is 
our proneness to live by sense, and natural reason, 
and such is the strangeness and height of divine 
things, such our inclination to a self- sufficiency and 
contentment in the creature, and so hard a matter is 
it to take off the soul from false bottoms, by reason of 
our unacquaintance with God and his ways ; besides, 
such guilt still remains upon our souls for our rebel- 
lion and unkindness towards God, that it makes us 

194 THE soul's CONFLICT. 

afraid to entertain serious thoughts of him ; and so 
great is the distance betwixt his infinite majesty, (be- 
fore whom the very angels do cover their faces) and 
us, by reason of the unspiritualness of our nature, be- 
ing opposite to his most absolute purity, that we can- 
not be brought to any familiarity with the Lord, so 
as to come into his holy presence with confidence to 
rely upon him, or any comfort to have communion 
with him, till our hearts be sanctified and lifted up 
by divine vigour infused into them. 

Though there be some inclination by reason of the 
remainder of the image of God in us, to an outward 
moral obedience of the law, yet, alas, we have not 
only no seeds of Evangelical truths and of faith to be- 
lieve them, but an utter contrariety in our natures, 
as corrupted, either to this, or any other good. 
When our conscience is once awaked, we meditate 
nothing but fears and terrors, and dare not so much 
as think of an angry God, but rather how we may 
escape and fly from him. Therefore, together with a 
deep consideration of the grounds we have of trusting 
God, it is necessary we should think of the indispo- 
sition of our hearts unto it, especially when there is 
greatest need thereof, that so our hearts may be 
forced to put out that petition of the disciples to God ; 
Lord, iricrease our faith, Lord, help us against our 
unbelieving hearts, &c. By prayer and holy thoughts 
stirred up in the use of the means, we shall feel di- 
vine strength infused and conveyed into our souls to 

The more care we ought to have to maintain our 
trust in God, because, besides the hardness of it, it is 
a radical and fundamental grace ; it is as it were the 
mother root and great vein whence the exercise of all 

THE soul's conflict. 195 

graces have their beginning and strength. The decay 
of a plant, though it appears first from the withering 
of the twigs and branches, yet it arises chiefly from a 
decay in the root ; so the decay of grace may appear 
to tlie view, first in our company, carriage, and 
speeches, &c. ; but the primitive and original ground 
of the same is weakness of faith in the heart ; there- 
fore it should be our wisdom, especially, to look to 
tlie feeding of the root; we must, 1. look that our 
principles and foundation be good, and, 2. build 
strongly upon them, and, 3. repair our building every 
day as continual breaches shall be made upon us, 
either by corruptions and temptations from within or 
without ; and we shall find that the main breaches of 
our lives arise either from false principles or doubts, 
or mindlessness of those that are true ; all sin is a turn- 
ing of the soul from God to some other good , 
but this proceeds from a former turning of the soul 
from God by distrust. As faith is the first return of 
the soul to God, so the first degree of departing from 
God is by infidelity, and from thence comes a depar- 
ture by other sins, by which, as sin is of a winding 
nature, our unbelief more increaseth, and so the rent 
and breach betwixt our souls and God is made 
greater still, which is that Satan would have, till at 
length by departing further and further from him, we 
come to have that peremptory sentence of everlasting 
departure pronounced against us ; so that our de- 
parture from God now is a degree to separation for 
ever from him. Therefore it is Satan's main care to 
come between God and the soul, that so unloosing 
us from God, we might more easily be drawn to other 
things ; and if he draws us to other things, it is but 
only to unloose our hearts from God the more ; for 

196 THE soul's conflict. 

he well knows whilst our souls cleave close to God, 
there is no prevaihng against us by any created po- 
licy or power. 

It was the cursed policy of Balaam to advise Balak 
to draw the people from God (by fornication), that so 
God might be drawn from them : the sin of their base 
affections crept into the very spirits of their mind, 
and drew them from God to idolatry ; bodily adultery 
makes way for spiritual ; an unbelieving heart is an 
ill heart, and a treacherous heart, because it makes 
us to depart from God, the living God, Sic, Heb. iii. 12. 
Therefore we should especially take heed of it as we 
love our hves, yea, our best life, which ariseth from 
the union of our souls with God. 

None so opposed as a Christian, and in a Christian 
nothing so opposed as his faith, because it opposeth 
whatsoever opposes God, both within and without us : 
it captivates and brings under whatsoever rises up 
against God in the heart, and sets itself against what- 
soever makes head against the soul. 

And because mistake is very dangerous, and we 
are prone to conceive that to trust in God is an easy 
matter, therefore it is needful that we should have a 
right conceit of this trust, what it is, and how it may 
be discerned, lest we trust to an untrusty trust, and 
to an unsteady stay. 

We may by what hath been said before, partly dis- 
cern the nature of it, to be nothing else but an exer- 
cise of faith, whereby looking to God in Christ through 
the promises, we take off our souls from all other 
supports, and lay them upon God for deliverance and 
upholding in all ill, present or future, felt or feared, 
and the obtaining of all good, which God sees expe» 
dient for us, 


Now that we may discern the truth of our trust in 
God the better, we must know, that true trust is wil- 
li7ig to be tried and searched, and can say to God as 
David, Now, Lord, what ivait I for, my hope is in 
thee, Psalm xxxix. 7 ; and as it is wilHng to come to 
trial, so it is able to endure trial, and to hold out in 
opposition, as appears in David; if faith hath a pro- 
mise, it will rely and rest upon it, say flesh and blood 
what it can to the contrary ; true faith is as large as 
the promise, and will take God's part against what- 
soever opposes it. 

And as faith singles not out one part of divine 
truth to believe and rejects another, so it relies upon 
God for every good thing, one as well as another ; 
the ground whereof is this, the same love of God that 
intends us heaven, intends us a supply of all necessaries 
that may bring us thither. 

A child that believes his father will make him heir, 
doubts not but he will provide him food and nourish- 
ment, and give him breeding suitable to his future 
condition ; it is a vain pretence to believe that God 
will give us heaven, and yet leave us to shift for our- 
selves in the way. 

Where trust is rightly planted, it gives boldness to 
the soul in going to God, for it is grounded upon the 
discovery of God's love first to us, and seeth a war- 
rant from him for whatsoever it trusts him for ; though 
the things themselves be never so great, yet they are 
no greater than God is wilKng to bestow; again, 
trust is bold because it is grounded upon the worthi- 
ness of a mediator, who hath made way to God's fa- 
vour for us, and appears now in heaven to maintain it 
towards us. 

Yet this boldness is with humility, which carries 


the soul out of itself; and that boldness which the 
soul by trust hath with God, is from God himself; it 
hath nothing to allege from itself but its own empti- 
ness and God's fulness, its own sinfulness and God's 
mercy, its own humble obedience and God's com- 
mand ; hence it is that the true believer's heart is not 
lifted up, nor swells with self-confidence ; as trust 
comes in, that goes out ; trust is never planted, and 
grows but in an humble and low soul ; trust is a holy 
motion of the soul to God, and motion arises from 
want; those, and those only, seek out abroad that 
want succour at home ; plants move not from place 
to place, because they find nourishment where they 
stand ; but living creatures seek abroad for their 
food, and for that end have a power of moving from 
place to place ; and this is the reason why trust is ex- 
pressed by going to God. 

Hereupon trust is a dependent grace, answerable 
to our dependent condition ; it looks upon all things, 
it hath or desires to have, as coming from God and 
his free grace and power : it desireth not only wis- 
dom but to be wise in his wisdom, to see in his hght, 
to be strong in his strength, the thing itself contents 
not this grace of trust, but God's blessing and love in 
the thing, it cares not for any thing further than it 
can have it with God's favour and good liking. 

Hence it is that trust is an obsequious and an ob- 
serving grace, stirring up the soul to a desire of pleas- 
ing God in all things, and to a fear of displeasing 
him : he that pretends to trust the Lord in a course 
of offending, may trust to this that God will meet him 
in another way than he looks for : he that is a tenant 
at courtesy will not offend his Lord : hence it is that 
the apostle enforceth that exhortation to work out our 


salvation ivith fear and trembling, because it is God 
that worketh the will and the deed, and according to 
his good pleasure, not ours : therefore, faith is an ef- 
fectual working grace, it works in Heaven with God, 
it works within us, commanding all the powers of the 
soul, it works without us, conquering whatsoever is in 
the world on the right hand to draw us from God, or 
on the left hand to discourage us ; it works against 
hell and the powers of darkness ; and all by virtue of 
trusting, as it draweth strength from God ; it stirs up 
all other graces and keeps them in exercise, and 
thereupon the acts of other graces are attributed to 
faith, as Heb. xi. It breeds a holy jealousy over our- 
selves, lest we give God just cause to stop the influ- 
ence of his grace towards us, so to let us see that we 
stand not by our own strength : those that take liberty 
in things they either know or doubt will -displease 
God, show they want the fear of God, and this want 
of fear shows their want of dependency, and therefore 
want of trust ; dependency is always very respective, 
it studieth contentment and care to comply; this 
was it made Enoch walk with God, and study how 
to please him, Heb. xi. 5 ; when we know nothing 
can do us good or hurt but God, it draws our chief 
care to approve ourselves to him. Obedience of 
faith and obedience of life will go together; and 
therefore he that commits his soul to God to save, 
will commit his soul to God to sanctify and guide in 
a way of well pleasing : not only the tame, but the 
most savage creatures, will be at the beck of those 
that feed them, though they are ready to fall violently 
upon others ; disobedience, therefore, is against the 
principles of nature. 

This dependency is either in the use of means, or 

200 THE soul's conflict. 

else when means fail us ; true dependency is exactly 
careful of all means. When God hath set down a 
course of means, we must not expect that God should 
alter his ordinary course of providence for us ; de- 
served disappointment is the fruit of this presumptu- 
ous confidence ; the more we depend on a wise phy- 
sician, the more we shall observe his directions, and 
be careful to use what he prescribes ; yet we must 
use the means as means, and not set them in God's 
room, for that is the way to blast our hopes ; the way 
to have anything taken away and not blest, is to set 
our heart too much upon it. Too much grief in part- 
ing with anything, shows too much trust in the enjoy- 
ing of it : and therefore he that uses the means in 
faith, will always join prayer unto God, from whom 
as every good thing comes, so likewise doth the bles- 
sing and success thereof; where much endeavour is 
and little seeking to God, it shows there is little 
trust ; the widow that trusted in God, continued like- 
wise in prayers day and night. 

The best discovery of our not relying too much 
on means, is, when all means fail, if we can still rely 
upon God, as being still where he was, and hath ways 
of his own for helping of us, either immediately from 
himself, or by setting awork other means, and those, 
perhaps, very unlikely, such as we think not of. God 
hath ways of his own. Abraham never honoured God 
more, than when he trusted in God for a son against 
the course of nature, and when he had a son, w^as 
ready to sacrifice him, upon confidence that God 
would raise him from the dead again. This was the 
ground upon which Daniel, with such great authority, 
reproved Balthasar that he had not a care to glorify 
God^ in whose hand his breath was,^ and all his ways. 

THE soul's COXFLICT. 201 

The greatest honour we can do unto God, is when 
we see nothing, but rather all contrary to that we 
look for, then to shut our eyes to inferior things be- 
low, and look altogether upon his all-sufficiency ; God 
can convey himself more comfortably to us when he 
pleaseth, without means than by means. True trust, 
as it sets God highest in the soul, so in danger and 
wants it hath present recourse to him, as the conies 
to the rocks. 

And because God's times and seasons are the best, 
it is an evidence of true trust when we can wait God's 
leisure, and not make haste, and so run before God ; 
for else the more haste the worse speed ; God seldom 
makes any promise to his children, but he exerciseth 
their trust in waiting long before, as David for a king- 
dom, Abraham for a son, the whole world for Christ's 
coming, &c. 

One main evidence of true trust in God is here in 
the text : we see here it hath a quieting and stilling 
virtue, for it stays the soul upon the fulness of God's 
love, joined with his ability to supply our wants and 
relieve our necessities, though faith doth not, at the 
first especially, so stay the soul, as to take away all 
suspicious fears of the contrary : there be so many 
things in trouble that press upon the soul, as hinder 
the joining of God and it together, yet the prevaihng 
of our unbelief is taken away, the reign of it is broken. 
If the touch of Christ in his abasement on earth drew 
virtue from him, certain it is that faith cannot touch 
Christ in heaven, but it will draw a quieting and sanc- 
tified virtue from him, which will in some measure 
stop the issues of an unquiet spirit ; the needle in the 
compass will stand north, though with some trem- 

1^2 THE soul's conflict. 

A ship that Hes at anchor may be something tossed, 
but yet it still remains so fastened, that it cannot be 
carried away by wind or weather ; the soul, after it 
hath cast anchor upon God, may, as we see here in 
David, be disquieted awhile, but this unsetthng tends 
to a deeper settling ; the more we believe, the more 
we are established ; faith is an establishing grace, by 
faith we stand, and stand fast, and are able to with- 
stand whatsoever opposeth us. For what can stand 
against God, upon whose truth and power faith re- 
hes ? the devil fears not us, but him whom we fly unto 
for succour ; it is the ground we stand on secures us, 
not ourselves. 

As it is our happiness, so it must be our endeavour 
to bring the soul close to God, that nothing get be- 
tween, for then the soul hath no sure footing. When 
we step from God, Satan steps in by some temptation 
or other presently. It requires a gi'eat deal of self- 
denial, to bring a soul either swelling with carnal 
confidence, or sinking by fear and distrust, to lie level 
upon God, and cleave fast to him : square will lie 
fast upon square ; but our hearts are so full of im- 
evenness, that God hath much ado to square our 
hearts fit for him, notwithstanding the soul hath no 
rest without this. 

The use of trust is best known in the worst times, 
for naturally in sickness we trust to the physician, in 
want to our wit and shifts, in danger to policy and the 
arm of flesh, in plenty to our present supply, &c. but 
when we have nothing in view, then indeed should 
God be God unto us. In times of distress, when he 
shows himself in the ways of his mercy and goodness, 
then we should especially magnify his name, which 
will move him to discover his excellencies the more, 


the more we take notice of them. And therefore 
David strengthens himself in these words, that he 
hoped for better times, wherein God would show him- 
self more gracious to him, because he resolved to 
praise him. 

This trusting joints the soul again, and sets it in its 
own trust resting-place, and sets God in his own 
place in the soul, that is, the highest ; and the crea- 
ture in its place, which is to be under God, as in its 
own nature, so in our hearts. This is to ascribe ho- 
nour due unto God, Psalm xxix. 2, the only way to 
bring peace into the soul : «thus, if we can bring our 
hope and trust to the God of hope and trust, we shall 
stand impregnable in all assaults, as will best appear 
in these particulars, 


Of quieting the Spirit in Troubles for Si7i. 
And Objections answered, 

TO begin with troubles of the spirit, which indeed 
are the spirit of troubles, as disabling that which 
should uphold a man in all his troubles. A spirit set 
in tune, and assisted by a higher spirit, will stand out 
against ordinary assaults, but when God (the God of 
the spirits of all flesh) shall seem contrary to our spi- 
rits, whence then shall we find relief? 

Here all is spiritual, God a Spirit, the soul a spi- 
rit, the terrors spiritual, the devil who joins with these 
a spirit ; yea, that which the soul fears for the time 
to come, is spiritual, and not only spiritual, but eter- 
nal, unless it pleaseth God at length to break out of 
the thick cloud, wherewith he covers himself, and 
shine upon the soul, as in his own time he will. 

204 THE soul's conflict. 

In this estate, comforts themselves are uncomfort- 
able to the soul; it quarrels with every thing, the 
better things it hears of, the more it is vexed. Oh 
what is this to me, what have I to do with these com- 
forts ? the more happiness may be had, the more is 
my grief; as for comforts from God*s inferior bles- 
sings, as friends, children, estate, &c. the soul is 
ready to misconstrue God's end in all, as not intend- 
ing any good to him thereby. 

In this condition God doth not appear in his own 
shape to the soul, but in the shape of an enemy ; and 
when God seems against us, who shall stand for us ? 
our blessed Saviour in his agony had the angels to 
comfort him ; but had he been a mere man, and not 
assisted by the godhead, it was not the comfort (no, 
not) of angels that could have upheld him, in the sense 
of his Father's withdrawing his countenance from him. 
Alas, then, what will become of us in such a case, if 
we be not supported by a spirit of power and the 
power of an almighty Spirit ? 

If all the temptations of the whole world and hell 
itself were mustered together, they were nothing to 
this, whereby the great God sets himself contrary to 
his poor creature. None can conceive so, but those 
that have felt it. If the hiding of his face will so 
trouble the soul, what will his frown and angry look 
do ? needs must the soul be in a woeful plight, when 
as God seems not only to be absent from it, but an 
enemy to it. When a man sees no comfort from 
above, and looks inward and sees less ; when he looks 
about him, and sees nothing but evidences of God's 
displeasure ; beneath him, and sees nothing but des- 
peration ; clouds without, and clouds within, nothing 
but clouds in his condition ; here he had need of 


faith to break through all, and see sun through the 
thickest cloud. 

Upon this, the distressed soul is in danger to be 
set upon a temptation, called the temptation of blas- 
phemy, that is, to entertain bitter thoughts against 
God, and especially against the grace and goodness 
of God, wherein he desires to make himself most 
known to his creature. In those that have wilfully 
resisted divine truths made known unto them, and 
after taste, despised them, a persuasion that God hath 
forsaken them, set on strongly by Satan, hath a 
worse effect, it stirs up a hellish hatred against God, 
carrying them to a revengeful desire of opposing 
whatsoever is God's, though not always openly (for 
then they should lose the advantage of doing hurt) 
yet secretly and subtilly, and under pretence of the 
contrary. To this degree of blasphemy God's chil- 
dren never fall, yet they may feel the venom of cor- 
ruption stirring in their hearts, against God and his 
ways, which he takes with them ; and this adds 
greatly to the depth of their affliction, when afterward 
they think with themselves what hellish stuff they 
carry in their souls. This is not so much discerned 
in the temptation, but after the fit is somewhat re- 

In this kind of desertion, seconded with this kind 
of temptation, the way is to call home the soul, and 
to check it, and charge it to trust in God, even though 
he shows himself an enemy, for it is but a show, he 
doth but put on a mask with a purpose to reveal 
himself the more graciously afterward ; his manner is 
to work by contraries. In this condition God lets in 
some few beams of light, whereby the soul casts a 
longing look upon God, even when he seems to for- 


sake it ; it will, with Jonas in the belly of hell, look 
back to the holy temple of God, Jonah ii. 4, it will 
steal a look unto Christ. Nothing more comfortable 
in this condition, than to fly to him, that by experi- 
ence knew what this kind of forsaking meant, for this 
very end that he might be the fitter to succour us in 
the like distress. 

Learn, therefore, to appeal from God to God, op- 
pose his gracious nature, his sweet promises to such 
as are in darkness, and see no light, Isa. 1. 10, inviting 
them to trust in him, though there appear to the eye 
of sense and reason nothing but darkness : here make 
use of that sweet relatioa of God in Christ, becoming 
a Father to us : Doubtless thou art our Father, Isa. 
Ixiii. 16 : flesh would make a doubt of it, and thou 
seemest to hide thy face from us, yet doubtless thou 
art our Father, and hast in former time showed thy- 
self to be so, we will not leave thee till we have a 
blessing from thee, till we have a kinder look from 
thee : this wresthng will prevail at length, and we 
shall have such a sight of him, as shall be an encou- 
ragement for the time to come, w^hen we shall be 
able to comfort others, with those comforts whereby 
we have been refreshed ourselves, 2 Cor. i. 4. With 
the saint's case remember the saint's course, which is 
to trust in God. So Christ the Head of the Church 
commits himself to that God, whose favour for the 
present he felt not ; so Job resolves upon trust, though 
God should kill him. 

But these holy persons were not troubled with the 
guilt of any particular sin, but I feel the just dis- 
pleasure of God kindled against me for many and 
great offences. 

True it is, that sin is not so sweet in the committing, 


as it is heavy and bitter in the reckoning. When 
Adam had once offended God, Paradise itself was 
not Paradise to him. The presence of God, which 
was mo&t comfortable before, was now his greatest 
terror, had not God out of his free infinite and pre- 
venting mercy come betwixt him and hell, by the 
promise of the blessed seed. This seed was made sin 
to satisfy for sin ; sin passive in himself to satisfy for 
sin active in us, 1 Cor, v. 21. 

When God once charges sin upon the soul, alas, 
who shall take it off? when the great God shall 
frown, the smiles of the creature cannot refresh us. 
Sin makes us afraid of that which should be our 
greatest comfort; it puts a sting into every other 
evil, upon the seizing of any evil, either of body, soul, 
or condition, the guilty soul is imbittered and enraged ; 
for from that which it feels, it fore-speaks to itself 
worse to come. It interprets all that befalls as the 
messengers of an angry God, sent in displeasure to 
take revenge upon it. This weakeneth the courage, 
wasteth the spirits, and blasteth the beauty even of 
God's dearest ones, Psalm xxxviii. There is not the 
stoutest man breathing, but if God sets his conscience 
against him, it will pull him down, and lay him flat, 
and fill him with such inward terrors, as he shall be 
more afraid of himself, than of all the world beside. 
This were a doleful case, if God had not provided in 
Christ a remedy for this great evil of evils, and if the 
holy Spirit were not above the conscience, able as 
well to pacify it by the sense of God's love in Christ, 
as to convince it of sin, and the just desert thereby. 

But my sins are riot the sins of an ordinary 
man, my spots are not as the spots of the rest of 
God's children. 


208 THE soul's conflict. 

Conceive of God's mercy as no ordinary mercy, 
and Christ's obedience as no ordinary obedience. 
There is something in the very greatness of sin, that 
may encourage us to go to God, for the greater our 
sins are, the greater the glory of his powerful mercy 
piardoning, and his powerful grace in healing will ap- 
pear. The great God delights to show his greatness 
in the greatest things ; even men glory, when they are 
put upon that, which may set forth their worth in 
any kind. God delighteth in mercy, Mic. vii. 18, it 
pleaseth him (nothing so well) as being his chief 
name, which then we take in vain, when we are 
not moved by it to come unto him. 

That which Satan would use as an argument to 
drive us from God, we should use as a strong plea 
with him. Lord, the greater my sins are, the greater 
will be the glory of thy pardoning mercy. David, 
after his heinous sins, cries not for mercy, but for 
abundance of mercy, according to the multitude of 
thy mercies, do away mine offences, Psalm li : his 
mercy is not only above his own works, but above 
ours too. If we could sin more than he could pardon, 
then we might have some reason to despair. Despair 
is a high point of atheism, it takes away God and 
Christ both at once. Judas, in betraying our Saviour, 
was an occasion of his death as man, but in despair- 
ing he did what lay in him to take away his life as 

When, therefore, conscience joining with Satan, 
sets out the sin in its colours, labour thou by faith to 
set out God in his colours, infinite in mercy and loving 
kindness. Here hes the art of a Christian ; it is di- 
vine rhetoric thus to persuade and set down the soul. 
Thy sins are great, but Adam's was greater, who being 


SO newly advanced above all the creatures, and taken 
into so near an acquaintance with God, and having 
ability to persist in that condition if he would, yet 
willingly overthrew himself and all his whole posterity, 
by yielding to a temptation, which though high (as 
being promised to be like unto God,) yet such as he 
should and might have resisted ; no sin we can com- 
mit, can be a sin of so tainting and spreading a na- 
ture, yet as he fell by distrust, so he was recovered by 
trusting, and so must we by relying on a second 
Adam, whose obedience andrighteousnessyVom thence 
reigns, Rom. v. 17, to the taking away not only of 
that one sin of Adam, and ours in him, but of all, 
and not only to the pardon of all sin, but to a right 
of everlasting life. The Lord thinks himself dispa- 
raged, when we have no higher thoughts of his mercy, 
than of our sins, when we bring God down to our 
model, when as the heavens are not so much higher 
than the earth, than his thoughts of love and good- 
ness are above the thoughts of our unworthiness, 
Isa. Iv. 9. It is a kind of taking away the Almighty, 
to limit his boundless mercy in Christ, within the 
narrow scantling of our apprehension ; yet infidelity 
doth this, which should stir up in us a loathing of it 
above all other sins. But this is Satan's fetch, when 
once he hath brought us into sins against the law, 
then to bring us into sins of a higher nature, and 
deeper danger, even against the blessed Gospel, th^t 
so there may be no remedy, but that mercy itself 
might condemn us. 

All the aggravations, that conscience and Satan 

helping it, are able to raise sin unto, cannot rise to 

that degree of infiniteness, that God's mercy in 

Christ is of. If there be a spring of sin in us, there 


210 THE soul's conflict. 

is a spring of mercy in him, and a fountain opened 
daily to wash ourselves in. If we sin oft, let us do as 
Saint Paul, who prayed oft against the prick of the 
flesh, Zac. xiii. 1. If it be a devil of long continu- 
ance, yet fasting and prayer will drive him out at 

Nothing keeps the soul more down than sins of 
long continuance, because corruption of nature hath 
gotten such strength in them, as nature is added to 
nature, and custom doth so determine and sway the 
soul one way, that men think it impossible to recover 
themselves, they see one link of sin draw on another, 
all making a chain to fasten them to destruction, they 
think of necessity they must be damned, because cus- 
tom hath bred a necessity of sinning in them, and 
conceive of the promise of mercy, as only made to 
such as turn from their sinful courses, in which they 
see themselves so hardened, that they cannot repent. 

Certain it is, the condition is most lamentable, that 
yielding unto sin brings men unto. Men are careful 
to prevent dangerous sicknesses of body, and the 
danger of law concerning their estates ; but seldom 
consider into what a miserable plight their sins, which 
they so willingly give themselves up unto, will bring 
them. If they do not perish in their sins, yet their 
yielding will bring them into such a doleful condition, 
that they would give the whole world, if they were 
possessors of it, to have their spirits at freedom from 
this bondage and fear. 

To such as bless themselves in an ill way upon 
hope of mercy, we dare not speak a word of comfort, 
because God doth not, but threatens, his wrath shall 
burn to hell against them. Yet because while life 
continues there may be as a space, so a place, and 


grace for repentance, these must be dealt withal in 
such a manner, as they may be stayed and stopped 
in their dangerous courses, there must be a stop be- 
fore a turn. 

And when their consciences are thoroughly awaked 
with sense of their danger, let them seriously consider 
whither sin, and Satan by sin, is carrying of them, 
and lay to heart the justice of God, standing before 
them as an angel with a drawn sword, ready to fall 
upon them if they post on still. 

Yet to keep them from utter sinking, let them con- 
sider withal, the unlimited mercy of God, as not 
limited to any person, or any sin, so not to any time ; 
there is no prescription of time can bind God, his 
mercy hath no certain date that will expire, so as 
those that fly unto it, shall have no benefit. Invin- 
cible mercy will never be conquered, and endless 
goodness never admits of bounds or end. 

What kind of people were those that followed 
Christ ? were they not such as had lived long in their 
sinful courses ? he did not only raise them that were 
newly dead, but Lazarus that had lien four days in 
the grave. They thought Christ's power in raising 
the dead had reached to a short time only, but he 
would let them know, that he could as well raise 
those that had been long as lately dead. If Christ 
be the physician, it is no matter of how long continu- 
ance the disease be. He is good at all kind of dis- 
eases, and will not endure the reproach of disability 
to cure any. Some diseases are the reproaches of 
other physicians, as being above their skill to help, 
but no conceit more dangerous when we are to deal 
with Christ. 

** The blessed martyr Bilney was much offended 


when he heard an eloquent preacher inveighing against 
sin, saying thus, Behold, thou hast lien rotten in thy 
own lusts, by the space Qf sixty years, even as a beast 
in his own dung, and wilt thou presume in one year 
to go forward towards heaven, and that in thine old 
age, as much as thou wen test backward from heaven 
to hell in sixty years ? is not this a goodly argument ? 
saith Bilney : is this preaching of repentance in the 
name of Jesus ? it is as if Christ had died in vain for such 
a man, and that he must make satisfaction for himself. 
If I had heard, sailh he, such preaching of repentance 
in times past, I had utterly despaired of mercy :" we 
must never think the door of hope to be shut against 
us, if we have a purpose to turn unto God. As there 
is nothing more injurious to Christ, so nothing more 
foolish and groundless than to distrust, it being the 
chief scope of God in his word to draw our trust to 
him in Christ, in whom is always open a breast of 
mercy for humbled sinners to fly unto. 

But thus far the consideration of our long time 
spent in the devil's service should prevail with us, as 
to take more shame to ourselves, so to resolve more 
strongly for God and his ways, and to account it 
more than sufficient that we have spent already so 
much precious time to so ill purposes ; and the less 
time we have, to make the more haste to work for 
God, and bring all the honour we can to rehgion in 
so little a space. Oh how doth it grieve those that 
have felt the gracious power of Christ in converting 
their souls, that ever they should spend the strength 
of their parts in the work of his and their enemy ! 
and might they hve longer, it is their full purpose for 
ever to renounce their former ways. There is bred 
in them an eternal desire of pleasing God, as in the 


wicked there is an eternal desire of offending him, 
which eternity of desires God looks to in both of 
them, and rewards them accordingly, though he cuts 
off the thread of their lives. 

But God in wisdom will have the conversions of 
such as have gone on in a course of sinning (especially 
after light revealed) to be rare and difficult. Births 
in those that are ancienter, are with greater danger 
than in the younger sort. God will take a course, 
that his grace shall not be turned into wantonness. 
He oft holds such upon the rack of a troubled con- 
science, that they and others may fear to buy the 
pleasure of sin at such a rate. Indeed where sin 
abounds, there grace superabounds, but then it is 
where sin that abounded in the life abounds in the 
conscience in grief and detestation of it, as the great- 
est evil. Christ groaned at the raising of Lazarus, 
which he did not at others, because that although to 
an Almighty power all things are alike easy, yet he 
will show that there be degrees of difficulties in the 
things themselves, and make it appear to us that it is 
so. Therefore those that have enjoyed long the sweet 
of sin, may expect the bitterest sorrow and repentance 
for sin. 

Yet never give place to thoughts of despair, as 
coming from him that would overturn the end of the 
Gospel, which lays open the riches of God's mercy 
in Christ, which riches none set out more than those 
that have been the greatest of sinners ^ as we see in 
Paul. We cannot exalt God more than by taking 
notice, and making use of that great design of infinite 
wisdom in reconciling justice and mercy together, so 
as now he is not only merciful, hxxt just in pardoning 
sins, Rom. iii. 26. Our Saviour, as he came towards 


the latter age of the world, when all things seemed 
desperate ; so he comes to some men in the latter part 
of their days. The mercy showed to Zacchseus, and 
the good thief was personal, but the comfort intended 
by Christ was public, therefore still trust in God, 

In this case we must go to God, with whom all 
things are possible, to put forth his almighty power, 
not only in the pardoning, but in subduing our ini- 
quities. He that can make a camel go through a 
needle s eye, can make a high conceited man lowly, 
a rich man humble. Therefore never question his 
power, much less his willingness, when he is not only 
ready to receive us when we return, but persuades 
and intreats us to come in unto him, yea, after back- 
sliding and false dealing with him, wherein he allows 
no mercy to be showed by man, yet he will take li* 
berty to show mercy himself, Jer. iii. 2. 

But I have often relapsed and fallen into the same 
sin again and again. 

If Christ will have us pardon our brother seventy- 
seven times, can we think that he will enjoin us more, 
than he will be ready to do himself, when in case of 
showing mercy he would have us think his thoughts 
to be far above ours ? Adam lost all by once sinning, 
IsaAv. 1, but we are under a better covenant, a co- 
venant of mercy, and are encouraged by the Son to 
go to the Father every day for the sins of that day. 

Where the work of grace is begun, sin loses strength 
by every new fall ; for hence issues deeper humility, 
stronger hatred, fresh indignation against ourselves, 
more experience of the deceitfulness of our hearts, re- 
newed resolutions until sin be brought under. That 
should not drive us from God, which God would have 
us make use of to fly the rather to him, since there 


is a throne of grace set up in Jesus Christ we may 
boldly make use of, and let us be ashamed to sin, 
and not be ashamed to glorify God's mercy in begging 
pardon for sin. Nothing will make us more ashamed 
to sin, than thoughts of so free and large mercy. 
It will grieve an ingenuous spirit to offend so good a 
God. Ah that there should be such a heart in me, 
as to tire the patience of God, and dam up his good- 
ness, as much as in me lies ! but this is our comfort, 
that the plea of mercy from a broken spirit to a gra- 
cious Father, will ever hold good. When we are at 
the lowest in this world,] yet there are these three 
grounds of comfort still remaining. 1. That we are 
not yet in the place of the damned, whose estate is 
unalterable. 2. That whilst we live there is time and 
space for recovering of ourselves. 3. That there is 
grace offered, if we will not shut our hearts against it. 

0, but every one hath his time, my good hour may 
be past. 

That is counsel to thee, it is not past if thou canst 
raise up thy heart to God, and embrace his goodness. 
Show by thy yielding unto mercy, that thy time of 
mercy is not yet out, rather than by concluding un^ 
comfortably, willingly betray thyself to thy greatest 
enemy, enforcing that upon thyself, which God la- 
bours to draw thee from. As in the sin against the 
Holy Ghost, fear shows that we have not committed 
it : so in this, a tender heart fearing lest our time be 
past, shews plainly that it is not past. 

Look upon examples, when the prodigal in his 
forlorn condition was going to his father, his father 
stayed not for him, but meets him in the way, Luke 
XV., he did not only go, but ran to meet him. God 
is more willing to entertain us, than we are to cast 


ourselves upon him : as there is a fountain opened for 
sin, and for uncleanness, so it is a Uving fountain 
of Hving water, that runs for ever, and can never be 
drawn dry. 

Here remember, that I build not a shelter for the 
presumptuous, but only open a harbour for the truly 
humbled soul, to put himself into. 


Of sorrow for Sin, and hatred for Sin, when right 
and sufficient. Helps thereto, 

AH ! there's my misery. If I could be humbled 
for sin, I might hope for mercy, but I never 
yet knew what a broken heart meant, this soul of 
77iine was never as yet sensible of the grief and smart 
of sin, how then can I expect any comfort? 

It is one of Satan's poUcies to hold us in a dead 
and barren condition, by following us with conceits, 
that we have not sorrowed in proportion to our of- 
fences. True it is, we should labour that our sorrow 
might in some measure answer to the heinousness of 
our sins : but we must know sorrow is not required 
for itself in that degree as faith is : if we could trust 
in God without much sorrow for our sins, then it 
would not be required, for God delights not in our 
sorrow as sorrow, God in mercy both requires it and 
works it, as thereby making us capable vessels of 
mercy, fit to acknowledge, value, and walk worthy of 
Christ ; he requires it as it is a means to imbitter sin, 
and the delightful pleasures thereof unto us, and by 
that means bring us to a right judgment of ourselves, 
and the creature, with which sin commits spiritual 
adultery, that so we may recover our taste before 

THE soul's conflict. 217 

lost. And then, when with the prodigal we return 
unto ourselves, having lost ourselves before, we are 
fit to judge of the baseness of sin, and of the worth 
of mercy ; and so upon grounds of right reason, be 
willing to alter our condition, and embrace mercy 
upon any terms it shall please Christ to enjoin. 

Secondly, if we could grieve and cast down our- 
selves beneath the earth as low as the nethermost pit, 
yet this would be no satisfaction to God for sin ; of 
itself, it is rather an entrance, and beginning of hell. 

Thirdly, we must search what is the cause of this 
want of grief which we complain of; whether it be 
not a secret cleaving to the creature, and too much 
contentment in it, which oft stealeth away the heart 
from God, and brings in such contentment as is sub- 
ject to fail and deceive us, whereupon from discontent- 
ment we grieve, which grief, being carnal, hinders grief 
of a better kind. 

Usually the causes of our want of grief for sin are 
these. First, a want of serious consideration, and 
dwelling long enough upon the cause of grief, which 
springs either from an unsettledness of nature ; or dis- 
tractions from things without. Moveable dispositions 
are not long affected with anything. One main use 
of crosses, is to take the soul from that it is danger- 
ously set upon, and to fix our running spirits. For 
though grief for crosses hinders spiritual grief, yet 
worldly delights hinder more. That grief is less dis- 
tant from true grief, and therefore nearer to be turned 
into it. 

And put case we could call o'fF our minds from other 
things, and set them on grief for our sins, yet it is 
only God's Spirit that can work our hearts to this 
grief, and for this end, perhaps God holds us off from 
it, to teach us, that he is the teacher of the heart to 


grieve. And thereupon it is our duty to wait, till lie 
reveal ourselves so far to ourselves, as to stir up this 
affection in us. 

Another cause may be a kind of doubleness of 
heart, whereby we would bring two things together 
that cannot suit. We would grieve for sin so far as 
we think it an evidence of a good condition : but then 
because it is an irksome task, and because it cannot 
be wrought without severing our heart from those 
sweet dehghts it is set upon ; hence we are loath God 
should take that course to work grief, which crosseth 
our disposition. The soul must therefore by self- 
denial be brought to such a degree of sincerity and 
simplicity, as to be willing to give God leave to work 
this sorrow, not to be sorrowed for, 2 Cor. xvii. 10, 
by what way he himself pleaseth. But here we must 
remember again, that this self-denial is not of our- 
selves, but of God, who only can take us out of our- 
selves, and if our hearts were brought to a stooping 
herein to his work, it would stop many a cross, and 
continue many a blessing which God is forced to take 
from us, that he may work that grief in us which he 
seeth would not otherwise be kindly wrought. 

God giveth some larger spirits, and so their sor- 
rows become larger. Some upon quickness of appre- 
hension, and the ready passages betwixt the brain 
and the heart, are quickly moved : where the appre- 
hension is deeper, and the passages slower, there sor- 
row is long in working, and long in removing. The 
deepest waters have the stillest motion. Iron takes 
fire more slowly than stubble, but then it holds it 

Again, God that searcheth and knows our hearts, 
better than ourselves, knows when and in what mea- 
sure it is Jit for to grieve ; he sees it is fitter for some 

THE soul's conflict. 219 

dispositions to go on in a constant grief. We must 
give that honour to the wisdom of the great physician 
of souls, to know best how to mingle and minister his 
potions. And we must not be so unkind to take it 
ill at God's hands, when he out of gentleness and for- 
bearance, ministers not to us that churlish physic he 
doth to others, but cheerfully embrace any potion 
that he thinks fit to give us. 

Some holy men have desired to see their sin in the 
most ugly colours, and God hath heard them in their 
requests. But yet his hand was so heavy upon them, 
that they went always mourning to their very graves ; 
and thought it fitter to leave it to God's wisdom to 
mingle the potion of sorrow, than to be their own 
choosers. For a conclusion then of this point, if we 
grieve that we cannot grieve, and so far as it is sin, 
make it our grief: then put it amongst the rest of our 
sins, which we beg pardon of, and help against, and 
let it not hinder us from going to Christ, but drive us 
to him. For herein lies the danger of this temptation, 
that those who complain in this kind, think it should 
be presumption to go to Christ : when as he espe- 
cially calleth the weary and heavy laden sinner to 
come unto him, and therefore such as are sensible that 
they are not sensible enough of their sin, must know 
though want of feeling be quite opposite to the life 
of grace, yet sensibleness of the want of feeling shows 
some degree of the life of grace. The safest way in 
this case is from that life and hght that God hath 
wrought in our souls, to see and feel this want of feel- 
ing, to cast ourselves and this our indisposition upon 
the pardoning and healing mercy of God in Christ. 

We speak only of those that are so far displeased 
with themselves for their ill temper, as they do not 

220 THE soul's conflict. 

favour themselves in it, but are willing to yield to 
- GocUs way in redressing it, and do not cross the spirit, 
moving them thus with David to check themselves, 
and to trust in God. Otherwise, an unfeeling and 
careless state of spirit wiir breed a secret shame of 
going to God, for removing of that we are not hearty 
in labouring against so far as our conscience tells us 
we are enabled. 

The most constant state the soul can be in, in re- 
gard of sin, is, upon judgment to condemn it upon 
right grounds, and to resolve against it. Whereupon 
repentance is called an after wisdom and change of 
the mind. And this disposition is in God's children 
at all times. And for affections, love of that which 
is good, and hatred of that which is evil ; these like- 
wise have a settled continuance in the soul. But grief 
and sorrow rise and fall as fresh occasions are offered, 
and are more lively stirred up upon some lively re- 
presentation to the soul of some hurt we receive by 
sin, and wrong we do to God in it. The reason 
hereof is, because till the soul be separated from the 
body, these affections have more communion with 
the body, and therefore they carry more outward ex- 
pressions than dislike or abomination in the mind 
doth. We are to judge of ourselves more by that 
which is constant, than by that which is ebbing and 

But what is the reason that the affections do not 
always follow the judgment, and the choice or re- 
fusal of the will ? 

1. Our soul being a finite substance, is carried with 
strength but one way at one time. 

2. Sometimes God calls us to joy as well as to grief: 
and then no wonder if grief be somewhat to seek. 


3. Sometimes when God calleth to grief, and the 
judgment and will goeth along with God, yet the 
heart is not always ready, because, it may be, it hath 
run out so far that it cannot presently be called in 

4. Or, the spirits, which are the instruments of the 
soul, may be so wasted that they cannot hold out to 
feed a strong grief; in which case, the conscience 
must rest in settled judgment and hatred of ill ; which 
is the surest and never failing character of a good soul. 

5. Of times God in mercy takes us off from grief 
and sorrow, by refreshing occasions : because sorrow 
and grief are affections very much afflicting both of 
body and soul. 

When is godly sorrow in that degree wherein the 
soul may stay itself from uncomfortable thoughts 
about its condition ? 

1. When we find strength against that sin which 
formerly we fell into, and ability to walk in a con- 
trary way : for this answers God's end in grief, one 
of which is a prevention from falling for the time to 
come. For God hath that affection in him which he 
puts into parents, which is by smart to prevent their 
children's boldness of offending for the time to come. 

2. When that which is wanting in grief is made 
up in fear. Here there is no great cause of com- 
plaint of the want of grief, for this holy affection is 
the awe-band of the soul, whereby it is kept from 
starting from God and his ways. 

3. When after grief vv^e find inward peace ; for true 
grief being God's work in us, he knows best how to 
measure it. Therefore, whatsoever frame God brings 
my soul into, I am to rest in his goodness, and not 
except against his dealing. That peace and joy 


which risethfrom grief in the use of means, and makes 
the soul more humble and thankful to God, and less 
censorious and more pitiful to others, is no illusion 
nor false light. 

The main end of grief and sorrow is to make us 
value the grace and mercy of God in Christ, above 
all the contentments which sin feeds on. Which, 
where it is found, we may know that grief for sin, 
hath enough possessed the soul before. The suffi- 
ciency of things is to be judged by an answerableness 
to their use and ends : God makes sin better, that 
Christ may be sweet ; that measure of grief and sor- 
row is sufficient, which brings us, and holds us to 

Hatred, being the strongest, deepest, and steadiest 
affection of the soul against that which is evil ; grief 
for sin is then right, when it springs from hatred, and 
increaseth further hatred against it. 

Now the soul may be known to hate sin, when it 
seeks the utter abolishing of it ; for hatred is an impla- 
cable and irreconcileable affection. 

True hatred is carried against the whole kind of sin, 
without respect of any wrong done to us, but only out 
of a mere antipathy, and contrariety of disposition to 
it. As the lamb hatetli the whole kind of wolves, and 
man hateth the whole kind of serpents. A toad does 
us no harm, but yet we hate it. 

That which is hateful to us, the nearer it is the more 
we shun and abhor it, as venomous serpents, and 
hurtful creatures, because the nearness of the object 
affects us more deeply. Therefore, if our grief spring 
from true hatred of sin, it will make no new league 
with it, but grieve for all sin, especially for our own 
particular sins, as being contrary to the work of God's 


grace in us, then is grief an affection of the new crea- 
ture, and every way of the right breed. 

But for fuller satisfaction in this case, we must know 
there is sometimes grief for sin in 2ts, when we think 
there is none : it wants but stirring up by some quick- 
ening word ; the remembrance of God's favours and 
our unkindness, or the aw^akingofour consciences by 
some cross, will raise up this aiFection feehngly in us. 
As in the affection of love many think that they have 
no love to God at all : yet let God be dishonoured in 
his name, truth, or children, and their love will soon 
stir and appear in just anger. 

In want of grief for sin, we must remember, 1. 
That we must have this affection from God, before 
we can bring it unto God. 

And, therefore, in the second place, our chief care 
should be not to harden our hearts against the motions 
of the spirit, stirring us to seasonable grief, for that 
may cause a judicial hardness from God. God oft 
inflicteth some spiritual judgment as a correction 
upon men, for not yielding to his Spirit at the first, 
they feel a hardness of heart growing upon them : this 
made the Church complain. Why hast thou hardened 
our hearts from thy fear ? Which if christians did 
well consider, they would more carefully entertain 
such impressions of sorrow, as the Spirit in the use of 
the means, and observation of God's deahng towards 
themselves or others, shall work in them, than they 
do. It is a saying of Austin, Let a man grieve for his 
si7i, and joy for his grief, though we can neither love, 
nor grieve, nor joy of ourselves, as we should, yet 
our hearts tell us, we are often guilty of giving a 
check to the spirits stirring these affections in us, 
which is a main cause of the many sharp afflictions we 

224 THE soul's conflict. 

endure in this life, though God's love in the main mat- 
ter of salvation be most firm unto us. 

We must not think to have all this grief at first, 
and at once, for oftentimes it is deeper after a sight 
and feeling of God's love than it was before. God is 
a free agent, and knows every man's several mould, 
and the several services he is to use them in, and oft 
takes liberty afterwards to humble men more (when 
he hath enabled them better to bear it) than in their 
first entrance into religion : grief before springs com- 
monly from self-love, and fear of danger. Let no 
man suspect his estate because God spares him in the 
beginning. For Christians many times meet with 
greater trial after their conversion than ever they 
thought on. When men take little fines, they mean 
to take the greater rent, God will have his children 
first or last to feel what sin is ; and how much they 
are beholden to him for Christ. 

This grief doth not always arise from poring on 
sin, but by oft considering of the infinite goodness 
of God in Christ, and thereby reflecting on our own 
unworthiness, not only in regard' of sin past, but like- 
wise of the sin that hangeth upon us, and issues daily 
from us. The more holy a man is, the more he sees 
the holiness of God's nature, with whom he desires 
to have communion, the more he is grieved that there 
should be anything found in him, displeasing to so 
pure a Majesty. 

And as all our grief comes not at first, so God 
will not have it come all at once, but to be a stream 
always running, fed with a spring, yet within the 
banks, though sometimes deeper, sometimes shallower. 
Grief for sin is like a constant stream ; grief for other 
things is like a torrent, or swelling waters, which are 



soon up, soon down ; what it wants in greatness is 
made up in continuance. 

Again, if we watch not our nature, there will be 
a spice of popery (which is a natural religion) in this 
great desire of more grief: as if we had that, then 
we had something to satisfy God withal, and so our 
minds will run too much upon works. This grief 
must not only be wrought by God revealing our sin, 
and his mercy unto us in Christ; but when it is 
wrought, we must altogether rest (in a sense of our 
own emptiness) upon the full satisfaction and worthi- 
ness of Christ our Saviour. 

All this that hath been said tends not to the aba- 
ting of our desire to have a tender and bleeding heart 
for sin ; but that in the pursuit of this desire, we be 
not cast down so as to question our estates, if we 
feel not that measure of grief which we desire and 
endeavour after, or to refuse our portion of joy 
which God offers us in Christ. Considering grief is 
no further good than it makes way for joy : which 
caused our Saviour to join them together : blessed 
are the mourners, for they shall be comforted. Being 
thus disposed, we may commit our souls to God in 
peace, notwithstanding Satan's troubling of us in the 
hour of temptation. 


Other spiritual Causes of the Soul's Trouble disco- 
vered and removed: and Objections answered. 

ANOTHER thing that disquiets and casts down 
the soul very much, is that inward conflict 
betwixt grace and corruption : this makes us most 
work, and puts us to most disquietment. It is the 


trouble of troubles to have two inhabitants so near in 
one soul, and these to strive one against another, in 
every action, and at all times in every part and power 
in us : the one carrying us upward, higher and higher 
still, till we come to God : the other pulHng us lower 
and lower, further from him. This cannot but breed 
a great disquiet, when a Christian shall be put on 
to that which he would not, and hindered from that 
which he would do, or troubled in the performance 
of it, Rom. vii. The more Hght there is to discern, 
and life of grace to be sensible hereof; and the more 
love of Christ, and desire from love to be like to him, 
the more irksome will this be : no wonder then that 
the apostle cried out, luretched man that I am, 
&:c. Rom. vii. 

Here is a special use of trust, in the free mercy of 
God in justification, considering all is stained that 
comes from us, it is one main end of God's leaving 
us in this conflicting condition, that we may live and 
die by faith in the perfect righteousness of Christ, 
whereby we glorify God more, than if we had perfect 
righteousness of our own. Hereby likewise we are 
driven to make^use of all the promises of grace, and 
to trust in God for the performance of them, in 
strengthening his own party in us, and not only to 
trust in God for particular graces, but for his Spirit 
which is the spring of all graces, which we have 
through and from Christ : who will help us in this 
fio^ht until he hath made us like himself. We are 
under the government of grace, sin is deposed from 
the rule it had, and shall never recover the right it 
had again ; it is left in us for matter of exercise, 
and ground of triumph. 

Oh (say some) / shall never hold out, as good 


give over at first as at last, I find such strong incli- 
nations to sin in me, and such weakness to resist 
temptation, that I fear I shall but shame the 
cause ; I shall one day perish by the hand of Satan, 
strengthening my corruption. 

Why art thou thus troubled? Trust in God, 
grace will be above nature, God above the devil, the 
Spirit above the flesh. Be strong in the Lord, the 
battle is his, and the victory ours beforehand. If we 
fought in our own cause and strength, and with our 
weapons, it were something : but as we fight in the 
power of God, so are we kept by that onighty power 
through faith unto salvation. It lies upon the faith- 
fulness of Christ, to put us into that possession of 
glory which he hath purchased for us : therefore 
charge the soul to make use of the promises, and 
rely upon God for perfecting the good work that he 
hath begun in thee. 

Corruptions be strong, but stronger is he that is in 
us, than that corruption that is in us. When we 
are weak in our own sense, then are we strong in 
him, who perfecteth strength in our weakness felt and 
acknowledged. Our corruptions are God's enemies 
as well as ours, and therefore in trusting to him, and 
fighting against them, we may be sure he will take 
our part against them. 

But I have great impediments, and many dis- 
couragements in my Christian course. 

What if our impediments be mountains, faith is 
able to remove them ; who art thou, mountain ? 
Zac. iv. 7, saith the prophet. What a world of im- 
pediments were there betwixt Egypt and the land of 
Canaan, betwixt the return out of Babylon and Je- 
rusalem ? yet faith removed all, by looking to God's 


power and truth in his promise. The looking too 
much to the^Anakims and giants, and too httle to 
God's omnipotency, shut the Israehtes out of Ca- 
naan, and put God to his oath, that they should 
never enter into his rest, Psalm xxv, and it will ex- 
clude our souls from happiness at length, if looking 
too much upon these Anakims within us and without 
us, we basely despair and give over the field, consi- 
dering all our enemies are not only conquered for us 
by our head, but shall be conquered in us, so that in 
strength of assistance we fight against them. God 
gave the Israelites' enemies into their hands ; but yet 
they must fight it out, and what coward will not 
fight when he is sure of help and victory ? 

But I carry continually about me a corrupt heart, 
if that were once changed, I could have some com- 

A new heart is God's creature, and he hath pro- 
mised to create it in us. A creating power cannot 
only bring something out of nothing, but contrary out 
of contrary. Where we are sure of God's truth, let 
us never question that power to which all things are 
possible. If our hearts were as ill, as God is power- 
ful and good, there were some ground of discourage- 
ment. In what measure we give up our hearts to 
God, in that measure we are sure to receive them 
better. That grace which enlargeth the heart to de- 
sire good, is therefore given, that God may increase 
it, being both a part and a pledge of further grace. 
There is a promise of pouring clean water upon us, 
which faith must sue out. Christ hath taken upon 
him to purge his spouse, and make her fit for him- 
self, Eph. V. 

But I have many wants and defects to be supplied. 

THE soul's conflict. 229 

It pleaseth him, that in Christ all fulness shall 
dwell, from whose fulness grace sufficient is dispensed 
to us, answerable to the measure of our faith, whereby 
we fetch it from the fountain. The more we trust, 
the more we have. When we look therefore to our 
own want, we should look withal to Christ's fulness, 
and his nearness to us, and take advantage from our 
misery to rest upon his all-sufficiency, whose fulness 
is ours, as himself is. Our fulness with our hfe is 
hid in Christ, and distilled into us, in such measure 
as his wisdom thinketh fit, and as showeth him to be 
a free agent, and yet so as the blame for want of 
grace lieth upon us, seeing he is beforehand with us 
in his offers of grace, and our own consciences will 
tell us, that our failings are more from cherishing of 
some lust, than from unwiUingness in him to supply 
us with grace. 

But God is of pure eyes, and cannot endure such 
services as I perforrn. 

Though God be of pure eyes, yet he looks upon us 
in him who is blameless and without spot, who by 
virtue of his sweet-smelling sacrifice, appears for us 
in heaven, and mingles his odours with our services, 
and in him will God be known to us by the name of 
a kind father, not only in pardoning our defects, but 
accepting our endeavours. We offer our services to 
God, not in our own name, but in the name of our 
high priest, who takes them from us, and presents 
them to his Father, as stirred up by his spirit, and 
perfumed by his obedience. Jonas's prayer was 
mingled with a great deal of passion and imperfection, 
yet God could discern something of his own in it, and 
pity and pardon the rest. 

230 THE soul's conflict. 


Of outivard Troubles disquieting the Spirit : and 
Comforts in them. 

AS for the outward evils that we meet withal in 
this life, they are either such, 1. ^5 deprive us. 
of the comforts our nature is supported withal ; or 
else, 2. they bring such misery upon our nature or 
condition that hinders our well-being in this world. 

For the first, trust in God, and take out of his all- 
sufficiency whatsoever we want. Sure we are by his 
promise, that we shall want nothing that is good. 
What he takes away one way, he can give another ; 
what he takes away in one hand, he can give another ; 
what he withholds one way, he can supply in a better. 
Whatsoever comfort we have in goods, friends, health, 
or any other blessings, it is all conveyed by him ; who 
still remains, though these be taken from us. And 
we have him bound in many promises for all that is 
needful for us. We may sue him upon his own bond ; 
can we think that he who will give us a kingdom, 
will fail us in necessary provision to bring us thither, 
who himself is our portion ? 

As for those miseries which our weak nature is 
subject to, they are all under Christ; they come and 
go at his command ; they are his messengers, sent 
for our good, and called back again when they have 
done what they came for. Therefore look not so 
much upon them, as to him for strength and comfort 
in them, mitigation of them, and grace to profit by 

To strengthen our faith the more in God, he calleth 
himself a buckler for defence from ill, and an exceed- 

THE soul's conflict. 231 

ing great reward for a supply of all good. A sun 
for the one, and a shield for the other. Trust him 
then with health, wealth, good name, all that thou 
hast. It is not in man to take away that from us 
which God will give us, and keep for us. It is not 
in man's power to make others conceive what they 
please of us. 

Among crosses, this is that which disquieteth not 
the mind least, to be deceived in matter of trust, 
when as if we had not trusted, we had not been de- 
ceived. The very fear of being disappointed, made 
David in his haste think all men were liars, Psalm 
cxvi. But as it is a sharp cross, so nothing will 
drive us nearer unto God, who never faileth his. 

Friends often prove as the reed of Egypt, as a 
broken staff, and as a deceitful brook, Job vi. 15, 
that fails the weary passenger in summer-time, when 
there is most need of refreshing ; and it is the unhap- 
piness of men, otherwise happy in the world, that 
during their prosperous condition, they know not who 
be their friends, for when their condition declines, it 
plainly appears, that many were friends of their es- 
tates, and not of their persons : but when men will 
know us least, God will know us most; he knows 
our souls in adversity, and knows them so as to sup- 
port and comfort them, and that from the spring-head 
of comfort, whereby the sweetest comforts are fetched. 
What God conveyed before by friends, that he doth 
nov/ instil immediately from himself. The immediate 
comforts are the strongest comforts. Our Saviour 
Christ told his disciples, that they would leave him 
alone ; yet, saith he, / am not alone, but the Father 
is with me. At St. Paul's first appealing all forsook 
hi7n, but the Lord stood by him. He wants no com- 

232 THE soul's conflict. 

pany that hath Christ for his companion. / looked 
for some to take pity, saith David, but there was 
none. This unfaithfulness of man is a foil to set out 
God's truth, who is never nearer than when trouble 
is nearest; there is not so much as a shadow of 
change in him or his love. 

It is just with God when we lay too much weight 
of confidence upon any creature, to let us have the 
greater fall ; man may fail us and yet be a good man, 
but God cannot fail us and be God, because he is 
truth itself. Shall God be so true to us, and shall 
not we be true to him and his truth ? 

The like may be said in the departure of our friends. 
Our hfe is oft too much in the hfe of others, which 
God takes unkindly : how many friends have we in 
him alone ? who rather than we shall want friends, 
can make our enemies our friends. A true believer 
is to Christ as his mother, brother, and sister, because 
he carries that affection to them, as if they were mo- 
ther, brother, and sister, to him indeed. As Christ 
makes us all to him, so should we make him all in all 
to ourselves. If all comforts in the world were dead, 
we have them still in the living Lord. 

Sicknesses are harbingers of death, and in the apt 
prehension of many they be the greatest troubles, and 
tame great spirits, that nothing else could tame \ 
herein we are more to deal with God than with men, 
which is one comfort sickness yieldeth above other 
troubles. It is better to be troubled with the distem-» 
pers of our own bodies, than with the distempers of 
other men's souls ; in which we have not only to deal 
with men, but with the devil himself, that ruleth in 
the humours of men. 

The example of Asa teaches us in this case not to 

THE soul's conflict. 233 

lay too much trust upon the physician, but with Heze- 
kiah first look up to God, and then use the means. 
If God will give us a quietus est, and take us off' from 
business by sickness, then we have a time of serving 
God by patient subjection to his will. If he means to 
use our service any further, he will restore our health 
and strength to do that work he sets us about. Health 
is at his command, and sickness stays at his rebuke. 
In the mean, the time of sickness is a time of purging 
from that defilement we gathered in our health, till 
we come purer out ; which should move us the rather 
willingly to abide God's time. Blessed is that sick- 
ness that proves the health of the soul. We are best, 
for the most part, when we are weakest. Then it ap- 
pears what good proficients we have been in time of 

Carnal men are oft led along by false hopes sug- 
gested by others, and cherished by themselves, that 
they shall live still, and do well, till death comes and 
cuts off* their vain confidence and their life both at 
once, before ever they are acquainted what it is to 
trust in God aright, in the use of means. We should 
labour to learn of St. Paul in desperate cases, to re- 
ceive the sentence of death, and not to trust in our- 
selves, but in God that raiseth the dead. He that 
raiseth our dead bodies out of the grave, can raise 
our diseased bodies out of the bed of sickness, if he 
hath a pleasure to serve himself by us. 

In all kind of troubles, it is not the ingredients that 
God puts into the cup so much afflicts us, as the in- 
gredients of our distempered passions mingled with 
them. The sting and core of them all is sin : when 
that is not only pardoned, but in some measure healed, 
and the pvoud flesh eaten out, then a healthy soul 

234 THE soul's conflict. 

will bear anything. After repentance, that trouble 
that before was a correction, becomes now a trial and 
exercise of grace. Strike , Lord, saith Luther, / bear 
anything willingly, because my sins are forgiven. 
We should not be cast down so much about outward 
troubles, as about sin, that both procures them and 
envenoms them. We see by experience, when con- 
science is once set at liberty, how cheerfully men will 
go under any burthen ; therefore labour to keep out 
sin, and then let come what will come. 

It is the foolish wisdom of the world to prevent 
trouble by sin, which is the way indeed to pull the 
greatest trouble upon us. For sin dividing betwixt 
God and us, moveth him to leave the soul to entangle 
itself in its own ways. When the conscience is clear, 
then there is nothing between God and us to hinder 
our trust. Outward troubles rather drive us nearer 
unto God, and stand with his love. But sin defileth 
the soul, and sets it further from God. It is well- 
doing that enables us to commit our souls cheerfully 
unto him. Whatsoever our outward condition be, 
if our hearts condemn us not, we may have bold- 
ness with God, In any trouble our care should be 
not to avoid the trouble : but sinful miscarriage in 
and about the trouble, and so trust God. It is a 
heavy condition to be under the burthen of trouble, 
and under the burthen of a guilty conscience both at 
once. When men will walk in the light of their own 
fire, and the sparks which they have kifidled them- 
selves, it is just with God that they should lie down 
in sorrow. 

Whatsoever injuries we suffer from those that are 
ill affected to us, let us commit our cause to the God 
of vengeance, and not meddle with his prerogative.^ 

THE soul's conflict. 235 

He will revenge our cause better than we can, and 
more perhaps than we desire. The wronged side is 
the safer side. If, instead of meditating revenge, we 
can so overcome ourselves as to pray for our enemies, 
and deserve well of them, we shall both sweeten our 
own spirits, and prevent a sharp temptation which we 
are prone unto, and have an undoubted argument that 
we are sons of that Father that doth good to his 
enemies, and members of that Saviour that prayed for 
his persecutors. And withal by heaping coals upon 
our enemies, shall melt them either to conversion or 
to confusion. 

But the greatest trial of trust is in our last encounter 
with death, wherein we shall find not only a depriva- 
tion of all comforts in this life, but a confluence of 
all ill at once, but we must know, God will be the 
God of his unto death, and not only unto death, but in 
death. We may trust God the Father with our bodies ' 
and souls which he hath created ; and God the Son, 
with the bodies and souls which he hath redeemed : 
and the holy Spirit, with those bodies and souls that 
he hath sanctified. We are not disquieted when we 
put off our clothes and go to bed, because we trust 
God's ordinary providence to raise us up again. And 
why should we be disquieted when we put off our 
bodies, and sleep our last sleep, considering we are 
more sure to rise out of our graves, than out of our 
beds ? Nay, we are raised up already in Christ our 
head ; who is the resurrection and the life, in whom 
we may triumph over death, that triumpheth over the 
greatest monarchs as a disarmed and conquered 
enemy. Death is the death of itself, and not of us. 
If we would have faith ready to die by, we must ex- 
ercise it well in living by it, and then it will no more 

236 THE soul's conflict. 

fail us than the good things we lay hold on by it, 
until it hath brought us into heaven, where that office 
of it is laid aside : here is the prerogative of a true 
christian above a hypocrite and a worldling, when 
as their trust, and the thing they trust in, fails them, 
then a true believer's trust stands him in greatest 

In regard of our state after death, a christian need 
not be disquieted, for the angels are ready to do their 
office in carrying his soul to paradise, those mansions 
prepared for him. His Saviour will be his judge, 
and the head will not condemn the members : then 
he is to receive the fruit and end of his faith, the 
reward of his hope ; which is so great and so sure, 
that our trusting in God for that, strengtheneth the 
heart to trust him for all other things in our passage ; 
so that the refreshing of our faith in these great things, 
refreshes its dependence upon God for all things here 
below. And how strong helps have we to uphold our 
faith in those great things which we are not able to 
conceive of, till we come to possess them ? Is not 
our husband there ? and hath he not taken possession 
for us ? Doth he not keep our place for us ? Is not 
our flesh there in him ? and his spirit below with us ? 
have we not some first-fruits and earnest of it before 
hand? Is not Christ now fitting and preparing of 
us daily, for what he hath prepared and keeps for 
us ? Whither tends all we meet with in this world, 
that comes betwixt us and heaven, as desertions, in- 
ward conflicts, outward troubles, and death at last, but 
to fit us for a better condition hereafter, and by faith 
therein to stir up a strong desire after it ? Comfort 
one another with these things, saith tlie apostle, 1 Thes, 
iv. 18 ; these be the things will comfort the soul. 



Of the defects of Gifts, disquieting the Soul, As 
also the Afflictions of the Church, 

AMONG other things, there is nothing more dis- 
quiets a christian, that is called to the fellow- 
ship of Christ and his Church here, and to glory 
hereafter, than that he sees himself unfurnished with 
those gifts that are fit for the calling of a saint ; as 
likewise for that particular standing and place wherein 
God hath set him in this world, by being a member 
of a body politic. 

For our christian calling, we must know that Chris- 
tianity is a matter rather of grace than of gifts, of obe- 
dience than of parts. Gifts may come from a more 
common work of the Spirit, they are common to 
castaways, and are more for others than for ourselves. 
Grace comes from a pecuhar favour of God, and 
especially for our own good. In the same duty, 
where there is required gifts and grace, as in prayer, 
one may perform it with evidence of greater grace, 
than another of greater parts. Moses, a man not of 
the best speech, was chosen before Aaron, to speak to 
God, Exod. vii. 11 ; and to strive with him by prayer, 
whilst Israel fought with Amalek with the sword. 
It is a business more of the heart than of the tongue, 
more of groans than of words, which groans and 
sighs, the spirit will always stir up even in the worst 
condition. Yet for parts there is no member, but 
it is fitted with some abilities, to do service in the 
body, and by faith may grow up to a greater mea- 
sure. For God calls none to that high condition, 
but whom in some measure he fits to be a useful 
member, and endows with a pubhc spirit* 

238 THE soul's conflict. 

But that is the measure which Christ thinks fit; 
who will make up that in the body which is wanting 
in any particular member. God will increase the 
measure of our gifts, as occasion shall be offered to 
draw them forth : for there is not the greatest but 
may have use both of the parts and graces of the 
meanest in the church. And here the soul may by 
a spirit of faith go to God in this manner : Lord, the 
estate of Christianity unto which thy love in Christ 
hath called and advanced me, is a high condition; 
and there is need of a great measure of grace to up- 
hold the credit and comfort of it. Whom thou call- 
est unto it, thou dost in some measure furnish to 
walk worthy of it. Let this be an evidence to my 
soul of the truth of thy call, that I am enabled by the 
Spirit for those duties that are required; in confi- 
dence of which assistance, I will set upon the work : 
thou hast promised to give wisdom to them that ask 
it, and to upbraid none with their unworthiness. 
Nay, thou hast promised the Spirit of all grace to 
those that beg it, Jam. i. 5 ; it is that which I need, 
and it is no more than thou hast promised. 

Only it must be remembered, that we do not walk 
above our parts and graces, the issue whereof will be 
discouragement in ourselves, and disgrace from others. 

The like may be said for our particular calling, 
wherein we are to express the graces of our Christian 
calhng, and serve one another in love, Gal. v. 13, as 
members of the state as well as of the church ; there- 
fore every one must have, 1. a calling; 2. a lawful; 
3. a useful calling ; 4. a calling fitted for his parts, 
that he may be even for his business ; 5. a lawful en- 
trance, and calling thereunto ; 6. and a lawful de- 
meanour in the same. Though the orb and sphere 
we walk in be little, yet we must keep within the 


bounds of it, because for our carriage in that, we 
must give a strict account, and there is no calling so 
mean but a man shall find enough to give a good 
account for. Our care must be to know our work, 
and then to do it, and so to do it as if it were unto 
God ; with conscience of moderate diligence for over- 
doing and over-working anything, comes either from 
ostentation or distrust in God : and negligence is so 
far from getting any blessing, that it brings us under 
a ciirse for doing God's work negligently^ Jer. xlviii. 
10. For we must think our callings to be services of 
God, who hath appointed us our standing therein. 

That which belongs to us in our calling is care of 
discharging our duty ; that which God takes upon 
him is assistance and good success in it. Let us do 
our work, and leave God to do his own. Diligence 
and trust in him is only ours, the rest of the burthen 
is his. In a family the father's and the master's care 
is the greatest, the child's care is only to obey, and 
the servant's to do his work, care of provision and 
protection doth nqt trouble them. Most of our dis- 
quietness in our calling is, that we trouble ourselves 
about God's work. Trust God and be doing, and 
let him alone with the rest. He stands upon his 
credit so much, that it shall appear we have not 
trusted him in vain, even when we see no appearance 
of doing any good. Peter fished all night and catched 
nothing, yet upon Christ's word he casts in his net 
again, and caught so many fish as break his net, 
Luke V. 6. Covetousness, when men will be richer 
than God would have them, troubles all, it troubles 
the house J the whole family, and the house within us, 
our precious soul, which should be a quiet house for 
God's spirit to dwell in, whose seat is a quiet spirit. 

240 THE soul's conflict. 

If men would follow Christ's method, and seek first 
the kingdom of heaven, Matt. vi. 33, all other things 
would be cast upon them. If thoughts of insuffi- 
ciency in our places discourage us, remember what 
God saith to Moses, when he pretended disability to 
speak, who hath made mans mouth, have not I the 
Lord? Exod. iv. 11. All our sufficiency for every 
calling is from God. 

But you will say, though by God's Messing my 
particular condition be comfortable, yet the state of 
God's people abroad, and the miseries of the times 
disquiet me. 

We complain of the times, but let us take heed we 
be not a part of the misery of the times : that they 
be not the worse for us. Indeed he is a dead mem- 
ber that takes not to heart the ill of the times, yet 
here is place for that complaint, help, Lord, Psalm 
xii. In these tempests do as the disciples did, cry to 
Christ to rebuke the tempests and storms. This is 
the day of Jacob's trouble, let it also be the day of 
Jacob's trust ; let the body do as the head did in the 
like case, and in time it shall be with the body as it- 
is with the head. 

In this case it is good to lay before God all the 
promises made to his church, with the examples of 
his presence in it, and deliverance of the same in 
former times. God is never nearer his church than 
when trouble is near : when in earth they conclude 
an utter overthrow, God is in heaven concluding a 
glorious deliverance : usually after the lowest ebb, 
follows the highest spring- tide. Christ stands upon 
Mount Zion. There is a counsel in heaven, that will 
dash the mould of all contrary counsels on earth ; 
and which is more, God will work the raising of the 

THE soul's conflict. 241 

Church, by that very means by which his enemies 
seek to ruin it. Let us stand still and behold the 
salvation of the Lord. God gave too dear a price 
for his Church, to suifer it long in the hands of mer- 
ciless enemies. 

As for the seeming flourishing of the enemies of 
God's Church, it is but for a time, and that a short 
time, and a measured time. The wicked plot against 
the just, Psalm xxxvii. 12 ; they are plotters and 
ploughers of mischief, Job iv. 8 : they are skilful 
and industrious in it, but they reap their own ruin. 
Their day is a coming, Psalm xxxvii. 12, and their 
joit is in digging, Psalm xciv. 13; take heed therefore 
o^ fretting, Psalm xxxvii. 7; because of the man ^/m^ 
bringeth wicked devices to pass, for the arms of the 
wicked shall be broken,* Psalm xxxvii. 17. We 
should help our faith by observing God's executing 
of judgment in this kind. It cannot but vex the 
enemies of the Church, to see at length a disappointing 
of their projects, but then to see the mould of all 
their devices turned upon their own heads, will more 
torment them. 

In this case, it will much comfort to 2:0 into the 
sanctuary, for there we shall be able to say. Yet God 
is good to Israel, Psalm Ixxiii. God hath an ark for 
his, there is no condition so ill, but there is balm in 
Gilead, comfort in Israel. The depths of misery 
are never beyond the depths of mercy . God oft for 
this very end, strips his Church of all helps below, 
that it may only rely upon him : and that it may 
appear that the Church is ruled by a higher power 
than it is opposed by. And then is' the time lohen 

* Head Psalms x. xxxvii. xciv. cxxix. &c. 



we may expect great deliverances of the Church, 
when there is a great faith in the great God, 

From all that hath been said, we see that the only 
way to quiet the soul is, to lay a charge upon it to 
trust God, and that unquietness and impatiency are 
symptoms and discoveries of an unbelieving heart. 


Of divine Reasons in a Believer, Of his minding 
to jjraise God, more than to be delivered. 

TO go on [/ shall yet praise him,] 
In these words David expresseth the reasons 
and grounds of his trust, namely from the interest 
he had in God by experience and special covenant : 
wherein in general we may observe, that those who 
truly trust in God, labour to back their faith with 
sound arguments ; faith is an understanding grace, 
it knows whom it trusts, and for what, and upon 
what grounds it trusts : reason of itself cannot find 
what we should believe, yet when God hath disco- 
vered the same, faith tells us there is great reason to 
believe it ; faith useth reason though not as a ground, 
yet as a sanctified instrument to find out God's 
grounds, that it may rely upon them. He believes 
best, that knows best why he should believe ; confi- 
dence, and love, and other affections of the soul, 
though they have no reason grafted in them, yet thus 
far they are reasonable, as that they are in a wise 
man raised up, guided, and laid down with reason ; 
or else men were neither to be blamed nor praised 
for ordering their aftections aright ; whereas not only 
civil virtue, but grace itself is especially conversant 
in ruhng the affections by sanctified reason. 


The soul g^uides the will and affections otherwise 
than it doth the outward members of the body. It 
sways the affections of confidence, love, joy, &c. as 
a prince doth his wiser subjects, and as counsellors do 
a well ordered state by ministering reasons to them ; 
but the soul governs the outward members by com- 
mand, as a master doth a slave, his will is enough. 
The hand and foot move upon command, without 
regarding any reason ; but we will not trust and re- 
joice in God without reason, or a show of reason at 
the least. 

Sin itself never wanted a reason, such as it is, but 
we call it unreasonable, because it hath no good rea- 
son for it ; for reason being a beam of God, cannot 
strengthen any work of darkness. God having made 
man an understanding creature, guides him by a 
way suitable to such a condition, and that is the 
reason why God in mercy yields so far to us in his 
word, as to give us so many reasons of our affiance 
in him. What is encouragement and comfort, but 
a demonstration to us of greater reasons to raise us 
up, than there are to cast us down ? 

David's reasons here are drawn partly from some 
promise of deliverance, and partly from God's nature 
and dealing with him, whom, as he had formerly 
found a healing and a saving God, so he expects to 
find him still ; and partly from the covenant of grace ^ 
he is my God. 

The chief of his reasons are fetched from God, 
what he is in himself, and what he is and will be to 
his children, and what to him in particular; though 
godly men have reasons for their trust, yet those rea- 
sons be divine and spiritual as faith itself is ; for a$ 
naturally as beams come from the sun, and branches 

244 THE soul's conflict. 

from tffe root, even so by divine discourse one truth 
issuethfrom another. And as the beams and the sun, 
as the root and branches are all of one nature, so the 
grounds of comfortable truths, and reasons taken 
from those grounds, are both of the same divinity 
and authority, though in time of temptation discourse 
is oft so troubled, that it cannot see how one truth 
'riseth from another; this is one privilege of heaven, 
that our knowledge there shall not be so much dis- 
coursive, proving one thing by another, as definitive, 
seeing things in their grounds with a more present 
view : the soul being then raised and enlarged to a 
present conceiving of things, and there being no flesh 
and blood in us to raise objections that must be sa- 
tisfied with reasoning. 

Sometimes in a clearer state of the soul, faith hath 
not so much use of reasons, but upon near and sweet 
communion with God, and by reason of some 
likeness between the soul that hath a divine nature 
stamped upon it, that soul presently, without any 
long discourse, runneth to God as it were by a super- 
natural instinct, as by a natural instinct a child run- 
neth to his father in any distress. Yea, and from that 
common light of nature, which disco vereth there is 
a God, even natural men in extremities will run to 
God, and God as the author of nature will some- 
times hear them, as he doth the young ravens, that 
cry unto him ; but comfortably, and with assurance 
only those have a familiar recourse unto him, that 
have a sanctified suitable disposition unto God, as 
being well acquainted with him. 

Sometimes again faith is put to it to use reasons 
to strengthen itself, and therefore the soul studieth 
arguments to help itself by, either from inward store 


laid up in the soul, or else it hearkeneth and yields 
to reason suggested by others ; and there is no gra- 
cious heart but hath a frame suitable and agreeable 
to any holy and comfortable truth that shall be 
brought and enforced upon it ; there is something in 
his spirit that answers whatever comes from the spirit 
of God : though perhaps it never heard of it before, 
yet it presently claims kindred of it, as coming from 
the same blessed spring, the Holy Spirit ; and there- 
fore a gracious heart sooner takes comfort than 
another, as being prepared to close with it. 

The reasons here brought by David, are not so 
much arguments to convince his judgment, as motives 
and inducements to incline his will to trust in God : 
for trusting being a holy relying upon God, carrieth 
especially the will to him ; now the will is led with 
the goodness of things, as the understanding is led 
with truth ; the heart must be sweetened with con- 
sideration of love and mercy in him whom we trust, 
as well as convinced of his ability to do us good, the 
cords that draw the heart to trust are the cords of 
love, and the cords of love are especially the love of 
him to us whom we love ; and therefore the most pre- 
vailing reasons that carry the whole heart, are such as 
are drawn from the sweetness of God, whereby the 
heart is opened and enlarged to expect all good, and 
nothing but good from him. 

But we must remember that neither reasons from 
the truth and power of God, nor inducements or al- 
lurements from the goodness of God, will further 
prevail with the soul, than it hath a fresh light and 
relish brought into it by the spirit of God, to dis- 
cern of those reasons, and answer the contrary. 

[/ will praise him.] David here minds praising 


of God more than his own dehvery, because he knew 
his own dehvery was intended on God's part, that he 
might be glorified. It is an argument of an excel- 
lent spirit, when all self-respects are drowned in the 
glory of God : and there is nothing lost therein ; for 
our best being is in God. A christian begins with 
loving God for himself; but he ends in loving himself 
in and for God : and so his end, and God's end, and 
the end of all things else concentre and agree in one. 
We may aim at our own good, so we bring our hearts 
to refer it to the chief good, as a less circle may well 
be contained in a greater, so that the lines drawn 
from both circles, meet in one middle point. It is an 
excellent ground of sincerity to desire the favour of 
God, not so much out of self-aims, as that God may 
have the more free and full praise from us, consi- 
dering the soul is never more fit for that blessed duty, 
than when it is in a cheerful plight. 

It rejoiced David more that he should have a large 
heart to serve God, than that he should have en- 
largement of condition. Holy dispositions think not 
so much of the time to come, that it will be sweet to 
them, as that it will further God's praise. True grace 
raiseth the soul above self-respects, and resteth not 
till it comes to the chief end wherein its happiness 

God is glorified in making us happy, and we (en- 
joying happiness) must glorify God. Although God 
condescend so low unto us, as not only to allow us, 
but to enjoin us to look to our own freedom from 
misery, and enjoyment of happiness, yet a soul 
thoroughly seasoned with grace, mounteth higher, 
and is carried with pure respects to advance God's 
glory; yea sometimes so far as to forget its own hap- 

THE soul's conflict. 247 

piness, it respects itself for God, rather than God for 
itself. A heavenly soul is never satisfied, until it be 
as near God as is attainable. And the nearer a crea- 
ture comes to God, the more it is emptied of itself, 
and all self-aims. Our happiness is more in him, 
than in ourselves. We seek ourselves most when we 
deny ourselves most. And the more w^e labour to 
advance God, the more we advance our own condi- 
tion in him. 

[/ will praise.] David thinks of his own duty in 
praising God, more than of God's work in delivering 
him : let us think of what is our duty, and God will 
think of what shall be for our comfort; we shall feel 
God answering what we look for from him, in doing 
what he expects from us. Can we have so mean 
thoughts of him, as that we should intend his glory, 
and he not much more intend our good ? 

This should be a strong plea unto us in our prayers, 
to prevail with God, when we engage ourselves upon 
the revelation of his mercy to us, to yield him all the 
praises. Lord, as the benefit and comfort shall be 
mine, so the praises shall be thine. 

It is little less than blasphemy to praise God for 
that which by unlawful shifts we have procured ; for 
besides the hypocrisy of it, in seeming to sacrifice 
to him, when we sacrifice indeed to our own wits and 
carnal helps, we make him a patron of those ways 
which he most abhors ; and it is idolatry in the high- 
est degree, to transform God so in our thoughts, as to 
think he is pleased with that which comes from his 
greatest enemy, and there is a gross mistake to take 
God's curse for a blessing ; to thrive in an ill way, 
is a spiritual judgment, extremely hardening in the 

248 THE soul's COXFLICT. 

It is an argument of David's sincerity here, that 
he meant not to take any indirect course for delivering 
himself, because he intended to praise God, which as 
no guihy conscience can offer, being afraid to look 
God in the face, so God would abhor such a sacri- 
fice, were it offered to him. St. Paul was stirred up 
to praise God, but withal he was assured God would 
preserve him from every evil work, 2 Tim. iv. 18. 

Sometimes indeed where there is no malicious in- 
tention God pardons some breakings out of flesh and 
blood, endeavouring to help ourselves in danger, so 
far as not to take advantage of them to desert us in 
trouble, as in David, who escaped from Achish by coun- 
terfeiting, 1 Sa7n, xxvii. 30; and this yields a double 
ground of thankfulness, partly for God's over-looking 
our miscarriage, and partly for the deliverance itself. 
Yet this indulgence of God, will make the soul more 
ashamed afterward, for these sinful shifts, therefore it 
must be no precedent to us. There can neither be 
grace nor wisdom in setting upon a course, wherein 
we can neither pray to God for success in, nor bless 
God when he gives it. In this case God most bless- 
eth where he most crosseth, and most curseth where 
the deluded heart thinks he blesseth most. 


In our worst condition we have cause to 'praise God, 
Still ample cause in these days, 

I SHALL yet praise him. Or, yet / will praise 
God; that is, however it goeth with me, yet as 
I have cause, so I have a spirit to praise God ; when 
w^e are at the lowest, yet it is a mercy that we are not 
consumed ; we are never so ill, but it might be worse 

THE soul's conflict. 24§ 

with us ; whatsoever is less than hell, is undeserved. 
It is a matter of praise, that yet we have time and 
opportunity to get into a blessed condition. The Lord 
hath afflicted me sore, but he hath not delivered me 
to death, saith David, Psalm xviii. 18. 

In the worst times there is a presence of God with 
his children. 

1. In moderating the measure of the cross, that it 
be not above their strength. 

2. In moderating the time of it, The rod of the 
wicked shall not rest long upon the lot*of the right- 
eous, Psalm cxxv. 3. God limits both measure and 

3. He is present in mixing some comfort, and so 
allaying the bitterness of a cross. 

4. Yea, and he supports the soul by inward 
strength; so as though it faint, yet it shall not ut- 
terly fail. 

5. God is present in sanctifying a cross for good, 
and at length, when he hath perfected his own work 
in his, he is present for a final deliverance of them. 
A sound hearted christian hath always a God to go 
to, a promise to go to, former experience to go to, 
besides some present experiences of God's goodness 
which he enjoys ; for the present he is a child of 
God, a member of Christ, an heir of heaven ; he 
dwells in the love of God in the cross, as well as out 
of it, he may be cast out of his happy condition in 
the world, but never out of God's favour. 

If God's children have cause to praise God in their 
worst condition, what difference is there betwixt 
their best estate and their worst ? 

Howsoever God's children have continual occasion 
to praise God, yet there be some more especial seasons 

250 THE soul's conflict. 

of praising God than others, there be days of God's 
own 7naking, of purpose to rejoice in, wherein we may 
say, This is the day which the Lord hath made, let 
us rejoice therein, Psalm xviii. 24. And this I think is 
chiefly intended here. David comforts himself with 
this, that however it was now with him, yet God would 
deal so graciously with him hereafter, that he should 
have cause to bless his name. 

Though in evil times we have cause to praise God, 
yet so we are, and such are our spirits, for the most 
part, that affliction straitens our hearts. Therefore 
the apostle thought it the fittest duty in affliction to 
pray. 75 any afflicted? let him pray , saith James ; 
Is any joyful ? let him sing Psalms, James v. 13 ; 
showing that the day of rejoicing is the fittest day of 
praising God. Every work of a christian is beau- 
tiful in its own time, the graces of Christianity have 
their several offices at several seasons ; in trouble, 
prayer is in its season ; in the evil day call upon me, 
saith God ; in better times praises should appear and 
show themselves. When God manifests his good- 
ness to his, he gives them grace with it, to manifest 
their thankfulness to him. Praising of God is then 
most comely, though never out of season, when God 
seems to call for it, by renewing the sense of his 
mercies in some fresh favour towards us. If a bird 
will sing in winter, much more in the spring ; if 
the heart be prepared in the winter time of adver- 
sity to praise God, how ready will it be when it is 
warmed with the glorious sunshine of his favour ? 

Our life is nothing but as it were a web woven with 
interminglings of wants and favours, crosses and 
blessings, standings and fallings, combat and victory, 
therefore there should be a perpetual intercourse of 

THE soul's conflict. 251 

praying and praising in our hearts. There is always 
a ground of communion with God in one of these 
kinds, till we come to that condition wherein all 
wants shall be supplied, where indeed is only matter 
of praise. Yet praising God in this life hath this pre- 
rogative, that here we praise him in the midst of his 
enemies. In heaven all will be in concert with us. 
God esteems it an honour in the midst of devils, and 
wicked men, whose life is nothing but a dishonour 
of him, to have those that will make his name as it 
is in itself so, great in the world. 

David comforts himself in this, that he should 
praise God ; which shows he had inured himself well 
before to this holy exercise, in which he found such 
comfort, that he could not but joy in the forethoughts 
of that time, wherein he should have fresh occasion 
of his former acquaintance with God. Thoughts of 
this nature enter not into a heart that is strange to 

It is a special art in tinie of misery, to think of 
matter of joy, if not for the present, yet for the time 
to come ; for joy disposeth to praise, and praise again 
stirs up joy ; these mutually breed one another, even 
as the seed brings forth the tree, and the tree brings 
forth the seed. It is wisdom therefore to set faith on 
work, to take as much comfort as we can, from future 
promises, that we may have comfort and strength for 
the present, before we have the full possession of 
them. It is the nature of faith to antedate blessings, 
by making them that are to be performed hereafter, 
as present now, because we have them in the pro- 
mise. If God had not allowed us to take many 
things in trust for the time to come, both for his 
glory and our good, he would never have left such 

252 THE soul's conflict. 

rich promises to us. For faith doth not only give 
glory to God, for the present (in a present believing 
of his truth, and relying upon him) but as it looks 
forward, it sees an everlasting ground of praising 
God, and is stirred up to praise him now, for that 
future matter of praise, which it is sure to have here- 
after. The very hopes of future good, made David 
praise God for the present. If the happy condition 
we look for were present, we would embrace it with 
present praises. Now faith is the evidence of things 
not seen, Heb. xi. 1 ; and gives a being to that which 
is not ; whereupon a true believing soul cannot but 
be a praising soul. For this end God reveals before- 
hand what we shall have, that before-hand we should 
praise him, as if we possessed it. For that is a great 
honour to his truth, when we esteem of what he 
speaks, as done, and what he promiseth, as already 
performed. Had we not a perpetual confidence in 
the perpetuity of his love to us, how is it possible we 
should praise him ? 

But we want those grounds for the time to come 
which David had, he had particular promises which 
we want. 

Though we want urim and thummim, and the pro- 
phets to foretel us what the times to come shall be, 
yet we have the canon of scripture enlarged, we live 
under a more glorious manifestation of Christ, and 
under a more plentiful shedding of the Spirit, whereby 
that want is abundantly supplied ; we have general 
promises for the time to come, that God will never fail 
nor forsake us, Deut. xxxi. 6 ; that he will be with us 
in fire and in water, that he will give an issue to the 
temptation, and that the issue of all things shall 
be for our good, that we shall reap the quiet fruit 


of righteousness, Heb. xii. 11; and no good thing 
will he withhold from them that lead a godly life^ 
&c. Psalm Ixxxiv. 11. If we had a spirit of faith to 
apply these generals, we should see much of God's 
goodness in particular. 

Besides general promises we have some particular 
ones for the time to come ; of the confusion of Anti- 
christ, of the conversion of the Jews, and fulness of 
the Gentiles, &c., which though we perhaps shall 
never live to see, yet we are members of that body, 
which hereafter shall see the same, which should stir 
up our hearts to praise God, as if we did enjoy the 
present fulfilling of them ourselves, for faith can pre- 
sent them to the soul, as if they were now present. 

Some that have a more near communion with God, 
may have a particular faith of some particular de- 
liverances, whereupon they may ground particular 
prayer. '' Luther praying for a sick friend, who 
was very comfortable, and useful to him, had a 
particular answer for his recovery, whereupon he 
was so confident, that he sent word to his friend, 
that he should certainly recover. Latimer prayed 
with great zeal for three things. 1. That Queen 
Elizabeth might come to the crown. 2. That he 
mio:ht seal the truth with his heart's blood. 3. And 
that the gospel might be restored onee again, once 
again, which he expressed with great vehemency of 
spirit, all which three, God heard him in. But the 
privileges of a few must not be made a general rule 
for all. Privileges go not out of the persons, but 
rest there. Yet if men would maintain a nearer 
communion with God, there is no doubt but he 
would reveal himself in more famihar manner to them, 
in many particulars than usually he doth. Those par- 


ticular promises in Psalm xci. and other places, are 
made good to such as have a particular faith, and to 
all others, with those limitations annexed to promises 
of that nature, so far forth as God seeth it will induce 
to their good and his own glory, and so far forth as 
they depend upon him in the use of means ; and is 
not this sufficient to stay a gracious heart ? 

But not to insist upon particular promises and re- 
velations (the performance whereof we enjoy here in 
this present life) we have rich and precious promises 
of final and full deliverance from all evil, and perfect 
enjoying of all good in that life which is to come ; 
yet not so to come, but that we have the earnest and 
first fruits of it here ; all is not kept for heaven ; we 
may say with David, Oh how great is thy goodness, 
which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, 
Psalm xxxi. 19 ; and (not only so, but) how great is 
that goodness which thou hast wrought in them that 
trust in thee, even before the sons of men ! God trea- 
sures not up all his goodness for the time to come, but 
lays much of it out daily before such as have eyes to 
behold it. 

Now God's main end in revealing such glorious 
promises of the life to come is, that they might be 
a ground of comfort to us, and of praise to him even 
in this hfe ; and indeed what can be grievous in this 
world to him that hath heaven in his eye? What 
made our blessed Saviour endure the cross, and des- 
pise shame, Heb. xii. 2 ; but the joy of glory to come 
set before him ? 

The duty that David brought his heart to before 
he had a full enjoyment of what he looked for, was 
patient waiting, it being God's use to put a long date 
oftentimes to the performances of his promises ; Da- 


vid after he had the promise of a kingdom, was put 
off a long time ere he was invested to it ; Abraham 
was an old man before he enjoyed his son of the pro- 
mise ; Joseph stayed a long time before he was ex- 
alted ; our blessed Saviour himself was thirty-four 
years old before he was exalted up into glory. 

God defers, but his deferring is no empty space, 
wherein no good is done, but there is in that space a 
fitting for promises. Whilst the seed lieth hid in the 
earth, time is not lost, for winter fits for spring, yea, 
the harder the winter, the more hopeful the spring ; 
yet were it a mere empty space, we should hold out, 
because of the great things to come ; but being only 
a preparing time, we should pass it with the less dis- 
couragement. Let this support us in all the thwart- 
ings of our desire ; it is a folly to think, that we should 
have physic and health both at once ; we must en- 
dure the working of God's physic ; when the sick 
humour is carried away and purged, then we shall 
enjoy desired health. God promiseth forgiveness of 
sin, but thou findest the burthen of it daily on thee. 
Cheer up thyself, when the morning is darkest, then 
comes day ; after a weary week comes a sabbath, 
and after a fight victory will appear. God's time is 
best, therefore resolve upon waiting his leisure. For 
the better demeaning of ourselves herein, we must 
know we must so wait, that we provoke not in the 
mean time his patience on whom we depend, by put- 
ting forth our hand to any evil, which indeed is a 
crossing of our hopes. Therefore waiting upon God 
is always joined with doing good. There is an influ- 
ence in the thing hoped for, in the spirit of him that 
truly hopes, stirring him up to a suitable conformity, 
by purging himself of whatsoever will not stand with 

256 THE soul's conflict. 

the holiness of that condition. Waiting implies all 
graces, as patience, perseverance, long-suffering in 
holding out, notwithstanding the tediousness of time 
deferred ; courage, and breaking through all diffi- 
culties that stand between. For what is waiting in- 
deed, but a continuing in a gracious inoffensive course, 
till the accomplishment of our desires ! 

Whence we may discern a main difference betwixt 
a christian and a carnal man, who is short- spirited, 
and all for the present ; he will have his good here, 
whereas a saint of God continues still waiting, though 
all things seem contrary to what he expects. The 
presence of things to come is such to faith, as it makes 
it despise the pleasure of sin for a season. What 
evidence of goodness is it for a man to be good only 
upon the apprehension of something that contents 
him ? Here is the glory of faith, that it can upon 
God's bare promise, cross itself in things pleasing to 
nature, and raise up the soul to a disposition some 
ways answerable to that blessed estate which, though 
yet it enjoys not, yet it is undoubtedly persuaded of, 
and looks for. What can encourage us more to 
wait, than this, that the good we wait for is greater 
than we are able to conceive, yea, greater than we 
can desire or hope for ? 

This was no presumptuous resolution of David's 
own strength, but it issued from his present truth of 
heart, so far as he knew the same ; together with an 
humble dependence upon God, both for deliverance, 
and a heart to praise him for it ; because God's be- 
nefits are usually entire, and are sweetened with such 
a sense of his love, as causeth a thankful heart, which 
to a true christian, is a greater blessing than the 
deliverance itself, as making the soul better. David 

THE soul's conflict. 257 

doth acknowledge with humble admiration, that a 
heart enlarged comes from God, Who am /, saithhe, 
and who are my people ? 

He mentioneth here praising God, instead of 
deliverance , because a heart enlarged to praise God 
is indeed the greatest part of the deliverance ; for by 
it the soul is delivered out of its own straits and dis- 

CHAP, xxviir. 

Divers qualities of the Praise due to God, With 
helps therein. And Notes of God*s hearing our 

THOUGH this be God's due and our duty, and 
itself a delightful thing, yet it is not so easy a 
matter to praise God, as many imagine : music is 
sweet, but the setting of the strings in tune is un- 
pleasing; our souls will not belong in tune, and it is 
harsh to us to go about the setting them in order ; 
like curious clocks, a little thing will hinder the mo- 
tion ; especially passion, which disturbs not only the 
frame of grace in us, but the very frame of nature, 
putting man out of the power and possession of him- 
self ; and therefore David here, when he had thoughts 
of praising God, was fain to take up the quarrel be- 
twixt him and his soul first; praising sets all the 
parts and graces of the soul awork ; and therefore 
the soul had need gather itself and its strength toge- 
ther to this duty. 

It requires especially self-denial, from a conscience 
of our own wants, weaknesses, and unworthiness ; it 
requires a giving up of ourselves, and all ours to be 
at God's dispose ; the very ground and the fruit 


which it yields are both God's ; and they never gave 
themselves truly up to God, that are not ready to 
give all they have to him whensoever he calls for it ; 
thankfulness is a sacrifice, and in sacrifices there 
must be killing before offering, otherwise the sacrifice 
will be as the offering up some unclean creature; 
thanksgiving is an incense, and there must be fire to 
burn that incense ; thanksgiving requires not only 
affections, but the heat of affections ; there must be 
some assurance of the benefit we praise God for ; and 
it is no easy matter tomaintainassuranceof our inte- 
rest in the best things. 

Yet in this case if we feel not sense of assurance, 
it is good we should praise God for what we have ; 
we cannot deny but God offers himself in mercy to 
us, and that he intends our good thereby, for so we 
ought to construe his merciful dealing towards us, 
and not have him in jealousy without ground ; if we 
bring our hearts to be willing to praise God, for that 
we cannot but acknowledge comes from him, he will 
be ready in his time to show himself more clearly to 
us ; we taste of his goodness many ways, and it is 
accompanied with much patience, and these in their 
natures lead us not only to repentance, but likewise 
to thankful acknowledgment ; and we ought to fol- 
low that which God leads us unto, though he hath 
not yet acquainted us with his secrets. 

It is good in this case to help the soul with a firm 
resolution, and to back resolution with a vow not 
only in general that we will praise, but particularly 
of something within our own power, provided it prove 
no snare to us. For by this means the heart is per- 
fectly gained, and the thing is as good as done in 
regard of God's acceptance and our comfort; because 


Strong resolutions discover sincerity without any 
hypocritical reservation and hollo w^ness. Always so 
much sincerity as a man hath, so much will his in- 
ward peace be. Resolution as a strong stream bears 
down all before it ; little good is done in religion 
without this, and with it all is as good as done. 

So soon as we set upon this work, we shall feel 
our spirits to rise higher and higher as the waters 
in the sanctuary, as the soul grows more and more 
heated ; see how David riseth by degrees. Be glad 
in the Lord, and then, rejoice, ye righteous, and then, 
shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart, the 
Spirit of God will delight to carry us along in this 
duty, until it leaves our spirits in heaven, praising 
God with the saints and glorious angels there; To 
him that hath and useth it shall be given ; he that 
knoweth God aright, will honour him by trusting of 
him ; he that honours him by trusting him, will honour 
him by praying ; and he that honours him by prayer, 
shall honour him by praises ; he that honours him by 
praises here, shall perfect his praises in heaven ; and 
this will quit the labour of setting and keeping the 
soul in tune ; this trading with God is the richest 
trade in the world ; when we return praises to him, 
he returns new favours to us, and so an everlasting 
ever-increasing intercourse betwixt God and the soul 
is maintained ; David here resolved to praise God, 
because he had assurance of such a deliverance as 
would yield him a ground of praising him. 

Praising of God may well be called incense, be- 
cause as it is sweet in itself, and sweet to God, so it 
sweetens all that comes from us. Love and joy are 
sweet in themselves, though those whom we love and 
joy in, should not know of our affection, nor return 

260 THE soul's conflict. 

the like ; but we cannot love and joy in God but he 
will delight in us ; when we neglect the praising of 
God, we lose both the comfort of God's love, and our 
own too ; it is a spiritual judgment to want or lose 
the sight or sense of God's favours, for it is a sign of 
want of spiritual life, or at least liveliness ; it shows 
we are not yet in the state of those whom God hath 
chosen, to set forth the riches of his glory upon. 

When we consider that if we answer not kindness 
and favour showed unto us by men, we are esteemed 
unworthy of respect, as having sinned against the 
bond of human society and love, we cannot but much 
more take shame to ourselves, when we consider the 
disproportion of our carriage, and unkind behaviour 
towards God ; when instead of being temples of his 
praise, we become graves of his benefits ; what a va- 
nity is this in our nature, to stand upon exactness of 
justice, in answering petty courtesies of men, and yet 
to pass by the substantial favours of God, without 
scarce taking notice of them ? the best breeding is to 
acknowledge greatest respects where they are most 
due, and to think, that if unkindness and rudeness 
be a sin in civihty, it is much more in religion ; the 
greatest danger of unthankfulness is in the greatest 
matter of all ; if we arrogate any spiritual strength to 
ourselves in spiritual actions, we commit either sacri- 
lege in robbing God of his due, or mockery, by prais- 
ing him for that which we hold to be of ourselves; if 
injustice be to be condemned in man, much more in 
denying God his due, religion being the first due. It 
takes much from thankfulness, when we have com- 
mon conceits of pecuhar favours ; praise is not comely 
in the mouth of fools, God loves no blind sacrifice. 

We should therefore have wisdom and judgment, 


not only to know upon what grounds to be thankful, 
but in what order, by discerning what be the best and 
first favours whence the rest proceed, and which add 
a worthiness to all the rest ; it is good to see bless- 
ings, as they issue from grace and mercy. It much 
commends any blessing, to see the love and favour of 
God in it, which is more to be valued than the bless- 
ing itself, as it much commends any thing that comes 
from us, when we put a respect of thankfulness, and 
love to God upon it ; and if we observe, we shall find 
the unkindness of others to us is but a correction of 
our unkindness to God. 

In praising God, it is not good to delay, but take ad- 
vantage of the freshness of the blessing ; what we add 
to delay, we take from thankfulness ; and withal, los^ 
the prime and first-fruits of our affections : it is a 
wise redeeming of time, to observe the best seasons 
of thankfulness ; a cheerful heart will best close with 
a cheerful duty ; and therefore it is not good to waste 
so fit a temper in frivolous things, but after some con- 
tentment given to nature, let God have the fruit of 
his own planting, otherwise it is even no better than 
the refreshing of him that standeth by a good fire, 
and crieth, Ah, ah, I am warm. 

David doth not say, I will thank God, but / shall 
praise him ; though he intends that. Thanks is then 
best when it tends to praising, and there ends ; for 
thanks alone show respect to our own good only, 
praises, to God's glory; and in particular to the glory 
of such excellencies whence the benefit comes ; and 
from thence the soul is enlarged to think highly of 
all God's excellencies. 

Hanna upon particular thanks for hearing her about 
a child, takes occasion to set out God's other excel- 

262 *rHE soul's conflict. 

lencies, and riseth higher and higher, from one to 
many, from the present time to that which was to 
come, from particular favours to herself, she stirs up 
others to praise God foy his mercy to them; so 
David, Deliver me, God, and my tongue shall 
sing of thy praises ; he propounds this as an en- 
gagement to the Lord to help him, because it should 
tend to the enlargement of his glory ; he was resolved 
to improve God's favour this way. 

The Spirit of God works like new wine, enlarging 
the spirit from one degree of praising God to another ; 
and because it foresees the eternity of God's love, as 
far as it can, it endeavours an eternity of God's 
praise ; a gracious heart upon taste of favour showed 
to itself, is presently warmed to spread the praise of 
God to others, and the more it sees the fruit of 
trusting God, and his truth in performing promise, 
the more it still honours that trusting, as knowing 
that it Hes upon God's honour, to honour those that 
honour him ; blessing will procure blessing ; the soul 
hath never such freedom from sin, as when it is in a 
thankful frame ; for thankfulness issues from a heart 
truly humbled and emptied of itself, truly loving and 
rejoicing in God ; and upon any sin the spirit is 
grieved and straitened, and the lips sealed up in 
such a heart ; for the conscience upon any sin looks 
upon it not only as disobedience against God's will 
and authority, but as unthankfulness to his goodness, 
and this melteth a godly heart most of all : when 
Nathan told David God had done this, and this for 
him, and was ready to do more, he could not hold in 
the confession of his sin, but relented and gave in 

We ought not only to give thanks, but to be thank- 

THE soul's conflict. 263 

fill, to meditate and study the praises of God. Our 
whole life should be nothing else but a continual 
blessing of his holy name, endeavouring to bring in 
all we have, and to lay it out for God and his people, 
to see where he hath any receivers : our goodness is 
nothing to God ; we need bring no water to the foun- 
tain, nor Hght to the sun. Thankfulness is full of 
invention, it deviseth liberal things, though it be our 
duty to be good stewards of our talents, yet thank- 
fulness adds a lustre, and a more gracious acceptance, 
as having more of that which God calls for. 
' Our praising God should not be as sparks out of 
a flint, but as water out of a spring, natural, ready, 
free, as God's love to us is ; mercy pleases him, so 
should praise please us ; it is our happiness when the 
best part in us is exercised about the best and highest 
work ; it was a good speech of him that said, If God 
had made me a nightingale, I would have sung as a 
nightingale, but now God hath made me a man, I 
will sing forth the praises of God, which is the work 
of a saint only : all thy works bless thee, and thy 
saints praise thee : all things are either blessings in 
their nature, or so blessed, as they are made blessings 
to us by the overruling coming of him, who maketh 
all things serviceable to his, even the worst things in 
this sense are made spiritual to God's people against 
their own nature ; how gr eat is that goodness which 
makes even the worst thin gs good ? 

Little favours come from no small love, but even 
from the same love that God intends the greatest 
things to us, and are pledges of it; the godly are 
more thankful for the least favours than worldly men 
for the greatest : the affection of the giver enhances 
the gift. 

264 THE soul's conflict. 

O then let us labour to improve both what we have, 
and what we are to his glory : it discovers that we 
love God, not only with all our understanding, heart, 
and affections, but, when with all our might and 
power, so far as we have advantage by any part, 
relation, or calling whatsoever, we endeavour to do 
him service, we cannot have a greater honour in the 
world, than to be honoured of God, to be abundant 
in this kind. 

Our time here is short, and we shall all ere long be 
called to a reckoning, therefore let us study real 
praises. God's blessing of us is in deed, and so 
should ours be of him. Thanks in words is good, 
but in deeds is better ; leaves are good, but fruit is 
better ; and of fruit, that which costs us most. True 
praise requires our whole man, the judgment to es- 
teem, the memory to treasure up, the will to resolve, 
the affections to delight, the tongue to speak of, and 
the life to express the rich favours of God : what can 
we think of? what can we call to mind ? What can 
we resolve upon ? what can we speak ? What can we 
express in our whole course better than the praises 
of him, of whom, and through whoin, and to whom 
we and all things are ? 

Our whole hfe should speak nothing but thankful- 
ness ; every condition and place we are in should be 
a witness of our thankfulness ; this will make the 
times and places we live in the better for us ; when 
we ourselves are monuments of God's mercy, it is fit 
we should be patterns of his praises, and leave monu- 
ments to others : we should think life is given us, to 
do something better than life in ; we live not to live ; 
our life is not the end of itself, but the praise of the 
giver : God hath joined his glory and our happiness 

THE SOUL^S CONFLICT. ^ ^85*^^^^ 

r/^^...«,^^ .... ^^ ^ C< Tnp 
together ; it is fit that we should refer all that is good - w A * 
to his glory, that hath joined his glof^ to our best 
good, in being glorified in our salvation. 

David concludes, that he should certainly praise 
God, because he had prayed unto him. Prayers be 
the seeds of praises : I have sown, therefore I will 
reap ; what we receive as a fruit of our prayers, is 
more sweet than what we have by a general pro- 

But how do we know that God hears our prayers ? 

1. If we regard them ourselves, and expect an 
issue ; prayer is a sure adventure, we may well look 
for a return. 

2. It is a sign that God hath heard our prayers, 
when he stirs up thankfulness aforehand upon as- 
surance ; thankfulness cannot be without either the 
grace of God, by which we are thankful, or some 
taste of the things we are thankful for. God often 
accepts the prayer, when he doth not grant the thing, 
and will give us thereby occasion of thanksgiving for 
his wise care, in changing one blessing for another 
fitter for us. God regards my prayers, when by 
prayer my heart is wrought to that frame which he 
requires, that is, an humble subjection to him, from 
an acknowledgment of my wants, and his fulness. 
There is nothing stirred up in our hearts by the Spirit, 
no, not so much as a gracious desire, but God will 
answer it, if we have a spirit to wait. 

3. We may know God hath accepted our prayer, 
when he makes the way easy and plain after prayer 
by a gracious providence, when the course of things 
begin to change, and we meet with comforts instead 
of former crosses, and find our hearts quieted and 
encouraged against what we most feared. 


266 THE soul's conflict. 

4. Likewise earnestness in prayer is a sign God 
hears our prayers, as fire kindled from heaven showeth 
God accepts the sacrifice ; the ground of prevaiUng 
by our prayer, is, that they are put up in a gracious 
name, and for persons in favour, and dictated by 
God's own Spirit ; they work in the strength of the 
blessed Trinity, not their own, giving God the glory 
of all his excellencies. 

It is God's direction to call upon him in trouble j 
and it is his promise to deliver ; and then both his 
direction and promise that we shall glorify him : 
when troubles stir up prayer, God's answer to them 
will stir up praises. David when he saith, / shall 
praise God, presupposes God would deliver him, 
that he might have ground of praising his name. 
And he knew God would deliver him, because as 
from faith he had prayed for deliverance, so he knew 
it was the order of God's dealing, to revive after 
drooping, and refresh after fainting. God knows 
otherwise that our spirits would fail before him. 

A thankful disposition is a special help in an af- 
flicted condition, for thankfulness springs from love, 
and love rejoiceth in suffering. Thankfulness raises 
the soul higher than itself, it is trading with God, 
whereby as we by him, so he gains by us. There- 
fore the saints used this as a motive to God, that he 
would grant their desires, because the living praise 
him, and not the dead. If God expect praise from 
us, sure he will put us into a condition of praise. 

Unthankfulness is a sin detestable both to God 
and men, and the less punishment it receives from 
human laws, the more it is punished inwardly by se- 
cret shame, and outwardly by public hatred, if once 
it prove notorious. When God's arrests come forth 


for denying him his tribute, he chiefly eyes an un- 
thankful heart, and hates all sin the worse, as there 
is more unthankfulness in it : the neglect of .kindness 
is taken most unkindly. Why should we load God 
with injuries, that loadeth us with his blessings ? who 
would requite good with evil ? Such men*s mercies 
will prove at last so many indictments against them. 

I beseech you therefore labour to be men of praises. 
If in any duty we may expect assistance, we may in 
this, that altogether concerns God's glory; the more 
we praise God, the more we shall praise him. When 
God by grace enlarges the will, he intends to give 
the deed. God*s children wherein their wills are 
conformable to God's will, are sure to have them ful- 
filled. In a fruitful ground, a man will sow his best 
seed. God intends his own glor^ in every mercy, 
and he that praises him, glorijies him. When our 
w^ills therefore carry us to that which God wills above 
all, we may well expect he will satisfy our desires. 
The living God is a Hving fountain never drawn dry, 
he hath never done so much for us, but he can and 
will do more. If there be no end of our praises, there 
shall be no end of his goodness, no way of thriving 
like to this. By this means we are sure never to be 
very miserable ; how can he be dejected, that by a 
sweet communion with God sets himself in heaven ? 
nay, maketh his heart a kind of heaven, a temple, 
a holy of holies, wherein incense is offered unto 
God ? It is the sweetest branch of our priestly office, 
to offer up these daily sacrifices ; it is not only the be- 
ginning, but a further entrance of our heaven upon 
earth, and shall be one day our whole employment 
for ever. 

Praise is a just and due tribute for all God's bles- 


sings; for what else especially do the best favours 
of God call for at our hands ? How do all creatures 
praise God, but by our mouths ? It is a debt always 
owing, and always paying ; and the more we pay, 
the more we shall owe ; upon the due discharge of 
this debt, the soul will find much peace. A thankful 
heart to God for his blessings, is the greatest blessing 
of all. Were it not for a few gracious souls, what 
honour should God have of the rest of the unthank- 
ful world ? which should stir us up the more to be 
trumpets of God's praises in the midst of his enemies, 
because this, in some sort, hath a prerogative above 
our praising God in heaven ; for their God hath no 
enemies to dishonour him. 

This is a duty that none can except against, be- 
cause it is especially a work of the heart. All can- 
not show their thankfulness in giving, or doing great 
matters, but all may express the willingness of their 
hearts. All within us may praise his holy name, 
Psalm ciii ; though we have little or nothing without 
us; and that within us is the thing God chiefly requires. 
Our heart is the altar on which we offer this incense ; 
God looks not to quantity, but to proportion ; he ac- 
cepts a mite where there is no more to be had. 

But how shall we be enabled to this great duty ? 

Enter into a deep consideration of God's favours, 
past, present, and to come ; think of the greatness 
and suitableness of them to our condition, the season- 
ableness and necessity of them every way unto us. 
Consider how miserable our life were without them, 
even without common favours ; but as for spiritual 
favours, that make both our natural and civil condi- 
tion comfortable, our very life were death, our light 
were darkness without these. In all favours think 

THE soul's conflict. 269 

not of them so much, as God's mercy and love in 
Christ, which sweetens them. Think of the freeness 
of this love, and the smallness of thy own deserts. 
How many blessings doth God bestow upon us, 
above our deserts, yea, above our desires, nay, above 
our very thoughts ? He had thoughts of love to us 
when we had no thoughts ourselves. What had 
we been if God had not been good unto us ? How 
many blessings hath God bestowed upon us, that we 
never prayed for? and yet we are not so ready to 
praise God, as to pray unto him ; this more desire 
of what we want than esteeming of what we have, 
shows too much prevailing of self-love. But, 

Secondly, comparing also ourselves with others, 
will add a great lustre to God's favour, considering 
we are all hewed out of one rock, and differ nothing 
from the meanest, but in God's free love. Who are 
we that God should single us out for the glory of his 
rich mercy. 

Considering, hkewise, that the blessings of God 
to us are such as if none but we had them, and 
God cares for us, as if he had none else to care for 
in the world besides. These things well pondered, 
should set the greater price upon God's blessings; 
what are we in nature and grace but God's blessings ; 
what is in us, about us, above us ? What see we, taste 
we, enjoy we, but blessings : all we have or hope to 
have, are but dead favours to us, unless we put life 
into them by a spirit of thankfulness. And shall we 
be as dead as the earth, as the stones we tread on ? 
Shall we live as if we were resolved God should have 
no praise by us? Shall we make ourselves God, 
ascribing all to ourselves ? Nay, shall we, as many 
do, fight against God with his own favours, and turn 

270 THE soul's conflict. 

God's blessings against himself? Shall we abuse 
peace to security ? Plenty to ease, promises to pre- 
sumption, gifts to pride? How can we please the 
devil better than thus doing ? Oh ! the wonderful 
patience of God, to continue life to those whose life 
is nothing else but a warring against him the giver pf 

As God hath thoughts of love to us, so should our 
thoughts be of praises to him, and of doing good in 
our places to others for his sake. Think with thyself, 
is there any I may honour God by relieving, comfort- 
ing, counselling ? Is there any of Jonathan's race ? 
2 Sam, ix. 1. Is there any of Christ's dear ones? I 
will do good to them, that they together with me, 
and for me, may praise God, Psalm cxviii. 1. As 
David here checks himself for the failing and dis- 
quietness of his spirit, and as a cure thereof, thinks 
of praising God : so let us, in the like case, stir up 
our souls as he did, and say. Praise the Lord^ O my 
soul, and all that is within me, set forth his holy 
name, Psalm ciii. 1 . We never use our spirits to better 
purpose, than when by that light we have from God, 
we stir them up to look back again to him. 

By this it will appear to what good purposes we 
had a being here in the world, and were brought into 
communion with Christ by the gospel. The carriage 
of all things to the right end, shows whose we are, 
and whither we tend. It abundantly appears by 
God's revealing of himself many ways to us, as by 
promises, sacraments, sabbaths, &c. that he intended 
to raise up our hearts to this heavenly duty. The 
whole gracious dispensation of God in Christ tends 
to this, that our carriage should be nothing else, but 
an expression of thankfulness to him ; that by a free, 


cheerful, and gracious disposition, we might show 
we are the people of God's free grace, set at liberty 
from the spirit of bondage, to serve him without fear, 
Luke i. 74, with a voluntary childlike service, all 
the days of our lives* 


Of God's manifold Salvation for his People j and 
why open, or expressed in the countenance, 

He is the salvation of my countenance. 

As David strengthens his trust in God, by reason 
fetched from the future goodness of God, apprehended 
by faith ; so he strengthens that reason with another 
reason fetched from God, whom he apprehends here 
as the salvation of his countenance. We need rea- 
son against reason, and reason upon reason, to steel 
and strengthen the soul against the onset of contrary 

He is the salvation of my countenance : that is, 
he will so save as I shall see, and my enemies shall 
see it ; and upon seeing, my countenance shall be 
cheered and hfted up ; God's saving kindness shall 
be read in my countenance, so that all who look on 
me, shall say, God hath spoken peace to my soul, as 
well as brought peace to my condition. 

He saith not salvation, but salvations ; because as 
our life is subject to many miseries, in soul, body, 
and state, public and private, &c. so God hath many 
salvations : if we have a thousand troubles, he hath 
a thousand ways of help ; as he hath more blessings 
than one, so he hath more salvations than one. He 

272 THE soul's conflict. 

saves our souls from sin, our bodies from danger, and 
our estates from trouble. He is the Redeemer of his 
people ; and not only so, but with him is plenteous 
redemption of all persons, of all parts both of body 
and soul, from all ill, both of sin and misery, for all 
times, both now and hereafter. He is an everlasting 

David doth not say, God will save me ; but God is 
salvation itself, and nothing but salvation. Our sins 
only stop the current of his mercy, but it being above 
all our sins, will soon scatter that cloud, remove that 
stop, and then we shall see and feel nothing but sal- 
vation from the Lord, All his ways are mercy and 
peace to a repentant soul that casts itself upon him. 

Christ himself is nothing else but salvation clothed 
in our flesh. So old Simeon conceived of him, when 
he had him in his arms, and was willing thereupon to 
yield up his spirit to God, having seen Christ, the sal- 
vation of God : when we embrace Christ in the arms 
of our faith, we embrace nothing but salvation. He 
makes up that sweet name given him by his Father, 
and brought from heaven by an angel to the full, 
Luke ii. 14 : a name in the faith of which, it is im-^ 
possible for any believing soul to sink. 

The devil in trouble presents God to us as a re- 
venging destroyer, and unbehef presents him under a 
false vizard ; but the skill of faith is, to present him 
as a Saviour clothed with salvation. We should not 
so much look what destruction the devil and his 
threaten, as what salvation God promiseth, Psalm 
Ixviii. 20. To God belong the issues of death ; and 
of all other troubles, which are lesser deaths. Cannot 
he that hath vouchsafed an issue in Christ from eter- 
nal death, vouchsafe an issue from all temporal evils ? 

THE soul's conflict. 273 

If he will raise our bodies, cannot he raise our con- 
ditions ? He that brought us into trouble can easily 
make a way out of it when he pleaseth. This should 
be a ground of resolute and absolute obedience, even 
in our greatest extremities, considering God will 
either deliver us (from death, or by death, and) at 
length out of death. 

So then, when we are in any danger, we see whi- 
ther to go for salvation, even to him that is nothing 
else but salvation ; but then we must trust in him, as 
David doth, and conceive of him as salvation, that 
we may trust in him. If we will not trust in salva- 
tion, what will we trust in ? and if salvation itself 
cannot save us, what can ? out of salvation there is 
nothing but destruction, which those that seek it any 
where out of God, are sure to meet with. How piti- 
ful then is their case, who go to a destroyer for sal- 
vation ? that seek for help from hell ? 

Here also we see to whom to return praise in all 
our deliverances, even to the God of our salvation. 
The virgin Mary was stirred up to magnify the Lord, 
but why ? Her spirit rejoiced in God her Saviour, 
Luke i. Whosoever is the instrument of any good, 
yet salvation is of the Lord ; whatsoever brings it, he 
sends it. Hence in their holy feasts for any deliver- 
ance, the cup they drank of was called the cup of 
salvation : and therefore David when he summons 
his thoughts, what to render unto God ; he resolves 
upon this, to take the cup of salvation. But always 
remember this, that when we think of God as salva- 
tion, we must think of him as he in Christ to his. 
For, so every thing in God is saving, even his most 
terrible attributes of justice and power : out of Christ, 
the sweetest things in God are terrible. Salvation 



itself will not save out of Christ, who is the only way 
of salvation, called the way, the truth, and the life. 

David addeth, He is the salvation of my counter 
nance ; that is, he will first speak salvation to my 
soul, and say, / am thy salvation ; and when the 
heart is cheered, which is as it were the sun of this 
little world, the beams of that joy will shine in the 
countenance. True joy begins at the centre, and so 
passcth to the circumference the outward man. The 
countenance is as the glass of the soul, wherein you 
may see the naked face of the soul, according as the 
several affections thereof stand. In the countenance 
of an understanding creature, you may see more than 
a bare countenance. The spirit of one man may see 
the countenance of another's inner man in his outward 
countenance ; which hath a speech of its own, and 
declares what the heart saith, and how it is affected. 

But how comes God to be the salvation of our 
countenance ? 

I answer : God only graciously shines in the face 
of Jesus Christ, which we with the eye of faith be- 
holding, receive those beams of his grace, and reflect 
them back again ; God shineth upon us first, and we 
shine in that light of his countenance upon us. The 
joy of salvation, especially of spiritual and eternal 
salvation, is the only true joy: all other salvations 
end at last in destruction, and are no further com- 
fortable than they issue from God's saving love. 

God will have the body partake with the soul ; as 
in matter of grief, so in matter of joy, the lantern 
shines in the hght of the candle within. 

Again, God brings forth the joy of the heart into 
the countenance , for the further spreadiiig and mul- 
tiplying of joy to others. 

Next unto the sight of .the sweet countenance of 


God, is the beholding of the cheerful countenance 
of a christian friend, rejoicing from true grounds. 
Whence it is that the joy of one becomes the joy of 
many, and the joys of many meet in one ; by which 
means, as many lights together make the greater 
light, so many lightsome spirits make the greater 
light of spirit : and God receiveth the more praise, 
which makes him so much to delight in the prosperity 
of his children. Hence it is, that in any deliverance 
of God*s people, the righteous do compass them about ^ 
Psalm cxlii. 7, to know what God hath done for 
their souls ; and keep a spiritual feast with them in 
partaking of their joy. And the godly have cause 
to joy in the deliverance of other christians, because 
they suffered in their afflictions, and it may be in 
their sins the cause of them, which made them some- 
what ashamed. Whence it is, that David's great 
desire was, that those who feared God might not be 
ashamed because of him, Psalm Ixix. 6 : insinuating 
that those who fear God's name are ashamed of the 
falls of God's people. Now when God delivers them, 
this reproach is removed, and those that had part in 
their sorrow have part in their joy. 

Again, God will have salvation so open, that it 
shall appear in the countenance of his people, the 
more to daunt and vex the enemies. Cainish hypo- 
crites hang down their heads, when God lifts up the 
countenance of their brethren ; when the countenance 
of God's children clears up, then their enemies' hearts 
and looks are cloudy. Jerusalem's joy is Babylon's 
sorrovj. It is with the Church and her enemies as it 
is with a balance, the scales whereof when one is up 
the other is down. Whilst God's people are under 
a cloud, carnal people insult over them, as if they 
were men deserted of God Whereupon they hang 


down their heads, and the rather, because they think 
that by reason of their sins, Christ and his rehgion 
will suffer with them. Hence David's care was, that 
the miseries of God's people should not he told in 
Gath, 2 Sam, i. 20. The chief reason why the ene- 
mies of the Church gnash their teeth at the sight of 
God's gracious dealing, is, that they take the rising 
of the Church to be a presage of their ruin. A les- 
son which Haman's wife had learned, Esther vi. 13. 
This is a comfort to us in these times of Jacob's 
trouble and Zion's sorrow • the captivity of the Church 
shall return, as rivers in the south, Psalm exxvi. 1. 
Therefore the church may say, Rejoice not over mcy 
O my enemy, though I am fallen, I shall rise again ^ 
Mic. vii. 8. Though Christ's spouse be now as black 
as the pots, yet she shall be as white as the dove. If 
there were not great dangers, where were the glory of 
God's great deliverance ? The Church at length will 
be as a cup of trembling, and as a burthensome 
stone. Zee. xii. 2. The blood of the saints cry, their 
enemies' violence cries, the prayers of the Church cry 
for deliverance and vengeance upon the enemies of 
the Church; and, as that importunate vjidow, Luke 
xi. 5, will at length prevail. Shall the importunity of 
one poor woman prevail with an unrighteous judge, 
and shall not the prayers of many that cry unto the 
righteous God take effect ? If there were armies of 
prayers, as there are armies of men, we should see the 
stream of things turned another way. A few Moses 
in the mount would do more good than many sol- 
diers in the valley. If we would hft up our hearts 
and hands to God, he would lift up our countenance. 
But alas, we either pray not, or cross our own prayers 
for want of love to the truth of God and his people. 

THE soul's conflict. 277 

It is we tliat keep Antichrist and his faction ahve, 
to plague the unthankful world. The strength he 
hath is not from his own cause, but from our want 
of zeal ; we hinder those hallelujahs by private brab- 
bles, coldness and indifFerency in religion. The Church 
begins at this time a little to lift up her head again : 
now is the time to follow God with prayers, that he 
would perfect his own work, and plead his own cause ; 
that he would be revenged not only of ours, but 
his enemies : that he would wholly free his Church 
from that miserable bondage. These beginnings give 
our faith some hold to be encouraged to go to God 
for the fulfilling of his gracious promise, that the 
Church may rejoice in the salvation of the Lord. 
God doth but look for some to seek unto him : Christ 
doth but stay until he is awaked by our prayers. But 
it is to be feared that God hath not yet perfected his 
work in Zion. The Church is not fully prepared for 
a full and glorious deliverance. If God had once his 
ends in the humiliation of the Church for sins past, 
with resolution of reformation for the time to come, 
then this age perhaps might see the salvation of the 
Lord, which the generations to come shall be witness 
of: we should see Zion in her perfect beauty. The 
generations of those that came out of Egypt saw and 
enjoyed the pleasant land which their progenitors 
were shut out of: who by reason of their murmuring 
and looking back to Egypt, and forgetfulness of the 
wonders which God had done for and before them, 
perished in the wilderness. 

There is little cause therefore of envying the pre- 
sent flourishing of the enemies of the Church, and of 
joining and colluding with them ; for it will prove 
.the wisest resolution to resolve to fall and rise with 


278 THE soul's conflict. 

the Church of Christ, considering the enemies them- 
selves shall say, God hath done great things for 
them : kings shall lay their crowns at Christ's feet, 
and bring all their glory to the Church, Rev. xxi. 24. 

And for every christian, this may be a comfort^ 
that though their light for a time may be eclipsed, 
yet it shall break forth. David at this time was ac- 
counted an enemy of the state, and had a world of 
false imputations laid upon him, which he was very 
sensible of; yet, we see here, he knew at length God 
would be the salvation of his countenance. 

But some, as Gideon, may object, if God intend 
to be so gracious, why is it thus with us ? 

The answer is, salvation is God's own work^ hum- 
bling and casting down is his strange work,, whereby 
he comes to his own work. For, when he intends to 
save, he will seem to destroy first : and when he will 
justify, he will condemn first : whom he will revive, 
he will kill first. Grace and goodness countenanced 
by God, have a native inbred majesty in them, which 
maketh the face to shine, and borroweth not its 
lustre from without, which God at length will have 
to appear in its own likeness, howsoever mahce may 
cast a veil thereon, and disguise it for a time : and 
though wickedness, as it is base born, and a child of 
darkness, may shelter itself under authority awhile, 
yet it shall hide itself and run into corners. The com- 
fort of comforts is, that at that great day, the day of 
all days, that day of the revelation of the righteous 
judgment of God, Dan. xii.; the righteous shall then 
shine as the sun in the firmament, then Christ will 
come to be glorious in his saints, and will be the sal- 
vation of the countenance of all his. Then all the 
works of darkness shall be driven out of countenance. 


and adjudged to the place from whence they came. 

In the mean time let us, with David, support ourselves ./' 

with the hopes of these times. 


Of God, our God, and of particular Application, 
'Y GOD. 


These words imply a special interest that the 
holy man had in God, as his God, being the ground 
of all which was said before; both of the duty of 
trusting, and of praising, and of the salvation that he 
expected from God. He is my God, therefore be 
not disquieted, but trust him. He is my God, there- 
fore he will give me matter to praise him, and will be 
the salvation of my countenance; God hath some 
special ones in the world, to whom he doth as it were 
pass over himself, and whose God he is by virtue of 
a more special covenant ; whence we have these ex- 
cellent expressions, / will be your God, and you 
shall he my people, Jer. xxxi. 33 ; / will be your 
Father^ and you shall be my sons and daughters^ 
2 Cor. vi. 18. Since the fall we having lost our com- 
munion with God the chief good, our happiness 
stands in recovering again fellowship with him. For 
this end we were created, and for this redeemed, and 
for effecting of this, the word and sacraments are 
sanctified to us, yea, and for this end God himself, 
out of the bowels of his compassion, vouchsafed to 
enter into a gracious covenant with us, founded upon 
Jesus Christ, and his satisfaction to divine justice; 
so that by faith we become one with him, and re- 
ceive him as offered of his Father to be all in all 
to us. 

280 THE soul's COTiTFLICT. 

Hence it is, that Christ hath his name Emanuely 
God with MS, Not only because he is God and man 
too, both natures meeting in one person, but be- 
cause being God in our nature, he hath undertook 
this office to bring God and us together. The main 
end of Christ's coming and suffering was to reconcile, 
and to gather together in one; and, as Peter ex- 
presseth it, to bring man again to God, 1 Pet. iii. 18. 
Emanuel is the bond of this happy agreement, and 
appears for ever in heaven to make it good. As the 
comfort hereof is great, so the foundation of it is sure 
and everlasting. God will be our God, so long as 
he is Christ's God ; and because he is Christ's God^ 
John XX. 10. Thus the father of the faithful, and all 
other holy men before Christ, apprehended God to 
be their God in the Messias to come. Christ was 
the ground of their interest. He was yesterday to 
them as well as to-day to us, Heb. xiii. Hence it 
is that God is called the portion, Psalm Ixxiii. 26, of his 
people, and they his jewels, Mai. iii. 25; he is their 
only rock and strong tower, Psalm Ixxi., and they his 
pecuhar ones. 

Well may we wonder that the great God should 
stoop so low, to enter into such a covenant of grace 
and peace, founded upon such a mediator, with such 
utter enemies, base creatures, sinful dust and ashes 
as we are. This is the wonderment of angels, a tor- 
ment of devils, and glory of our nature and persons ; 
and will be matter of admiration, and praising God 
unto us for all eternity. 

As God ofFereth himself to be ours in Christ, (else 
durst we lay no claim to him) so there must be in us 
an appropriating grace of faith, to lay hold of this 
offer. David saith here, My God. But by what 


Spirit? by a spirit of faith, which looking to God's 
offer, maketh it his own whatsoever it lays hold of. 
God ofFereth himself in covenant, and faith catcheth 
hold thereon presently. With a gracious offer of 
God, there goeth a gracious touch of his spirit to the 
soul, giving it sight and strength, whereby, being 
aided by the same spirit, it layeth hold on God 
showing himself in love. God saith to the soul, / am 
thy salvation, and the soul saith again. Thou art my 
God. Faith is nothing else but a spiritual echo, 
returning that voice hack again, which God first 
speaks to the soul. For what acquaintance could 
the soul claim with so glorious a majesty, if he should 
not first condescend so low, as to speak peace, and 
whisper secretly to the soul, that he is our loving 
God and Father, and we his pecuhar ones in Christ, 
that our sins are all pardoned, his justice fully satis- 
fied, and our persons freely accepted in his dear Son ? 

But to come more particularly to the words, My 
God. The words are pregnant; in the womb of 
them, all that is graciously and comfortably good is 
contained ; they are the spring-head of all particular 
blessings. All particular relations and titles that it 
pleaseth God to take upon him, have their strength 
from hence, that God is our God. More cannot be 
said, and less will not serve the turn. Whatsoever 
else we have, if we have not God, it will prove but 
an empty cistern at last ; he is our proper element, 
every thing desires to live in its own element, fishes 
in the sea, birds in the air : in this they are best 

There is a greater strength in this My God than in 
any other title, it is more than if he had said, My 
King, or My Lord', these are words of sovereignty 

282 THE soul's conflict. 

and wisdom ; but this implies not only infinite power, 
sovereignty, and wisdom, but likewise infinite bounty 
and provident care ; so that when we are said to be 
God's people, the meaning is, that we are not only 
such over whom God hath a power and command, 
but such as toward whom he shows a loving and 
peculiar respect. 

In the words is implied, 1. A propriety and interest 
in God. 2. An improvement of the same for the 
quieting of the soul. 

David here lays a particular claim, by a particular 
faith unto God. The reason is, 1. The virtue of 
faith is as to lay hold, so to appropriate to itself, and 
make its own whatever it lays hold on, and it doth 
no more in this, than God gives it leave by his gra- 
cious promises to do. 

2. As God offers, so faith receives, but God offers 
himself in particular to the believing soul by his spirit, 
therefore our faith must be particular. That which 
the sacraments seal, is a peculiar interest in Christ. 
This is that which hath always upheld the saints of 
God, and that which is ever joined with the hfe of 
Christ in us. The life that I live, saith Paul, is by 
the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave 
himself for me, Gal. ii. 20. The spirit of faith is a 
spirit of application. 

This is imphed in all the articles of our faith ; we 
believe God to be our father, and Christ to be born 
for us, that he died for us, and rose again for our 
good, and now sits at the right hand of God making 
requests for us in particular. 

3. This is that which distinguisheth the faith of a 
true christian from all hypocrites and cast-aways 
whatsoever. Were it not for this word of possession 

THE soul's conflict. 283 

(mine) the devil might say the Creed to as good 
purpose as we; he believes there is a God, and a 
Christ : but that which torments him is this, he can 
say (my) to never an article of faith. 

4. A general apprehension of God's goodness and 
mercy may stand with desperation. Take away my 
from God, and take away God himself in regard of 
comfort ; what comfort was it for Adam, when he was 
shut out of Paradise, to look upon it after he had 
lost it ? The more excellencies are in God, the more 
our grief if we have not our part in them : the very 
hfe-blood of the gospel lies in a special application 
of particular mercy to ourselves. All relations that 
God and Christ have taken upon them, imply a ne- 
cessity of application ; what if God be a rock of sal- 
vation, if we do not rest upon him ? What if he be 
a foundation, and we do not build on him ? What if 
he offers himself as a husband, if we will not accept 
of him, what avails it us ? How can we rejoice in 
the salvation of our souls, unless we can in parti- 
cular say, / rejoice in God my Saviour, 

5. Without particular application, we can neither 
entertain the love of God, nor return love again, by 
which means we lose all the comfort God intends us 
in his w^ord, which of purpose was written for our 
solace and refreshment ; take away particular faith, 
and we let out all the spirits of cheerful and thank- 
ful obedience. 

This possessive particle (my) hath place in all the 
golden chain of our salvation. The first spring of all 
God's claim to us as his is in his election of us ; we 
were by grace his before we were ; those that are 
his from that eternal love, he gives to Christ ; this is 
hid in the breast of God, till he calls us out of the rest 

284 THE soul's conflict. 

of the world into communion with Christ. In an- 
swering of which call, by faith, we become one with 
Christ, and so one with him. Afterwards in justifi- 
cation we feel God experimentally to be reconciled 
unto us, whence arises joy and inward peace. And 
then upon further sanctification God delights in us 
as his, bearing his own image, and we from a likeness 
to God delight in him as ours in his Christ, and so 
this mutual interest betwixt God and us continues 
until at last God becomes all in all unto us. 

But how can a man that is not yet in the state of 
grace say with any comfort, My God ? 

Whilst a man regards iniquity in his heart with- 
out any remorse or dislike of the same, if he saith My 
God, his heart will give his tongue the lie, however 
in an outward profession and opinion of others, he 
may bear himself as if God were his, upon false 
grounds. For there can be no more in a conclusion, 
than it hath from the principle and premises out of 
which it is drawn. The principle here is, that God 
is the God of all that trust in him. Now if we can 
make it good, that we truly trust in God, we may 
safely conclude of comfort from him ; for the more 
certain clearing of which, try yourselves by the signs 
of trust delivered. 

It is no easy matter to say in truth of heart, My 
God, the flesh will still labour for supremacy, God 
should be all in all unto us, but this will not be till 
these bodies of flesh, together with the body of sin, 
be laid aside. He that says, God is my God, and 
doth not yield up himself unto God, raiseth a build- 
ing without a foundation, layeth a claim without 
a title, and claimeth a title without an evidence, 
reckoning upon a bargain, without consent of the 
party with whom he would contract. 


"But if a man shall out of the sight and sense of sin, 
thirst after mercy in Christ, and call upon God for 
pardon, then God, who is a God hearing prayer^ 
Psalm Ixv. 2, and delighteth to be known by the name 
of merciful, will be ready to close and meet with the 
desire of such a soul, so far as to give it leave to rely 
upon him for mercy, and that without presumption, 
until he further discovers himself graciously unto it ; 
upon sense of which grace the soul may be encouraged 
to lay a further claim unto God, having further ac- 
quaintance with him. Hence are those exhortations so 
oft in the Prophets, to turn unto the Lord our God, 
Zac. i. 3, because upon our first resolution to turn 
unto God, we shall find him always ready to answer 
those desires, that he stirs up by his own Spirit in us. 
We are not therefore to stay our turning unto God, 
till we feel him saying to our hearts, / am thy God ; 
but when he prevents us by his grace, enabling us to 
desire grace, let us follow the work begun in the 
strength of what grace we have, and then God will^ 
further manifest himself in mercy to us. 

Yet God, before we can make any thing towards 
him, letteth into our hearts some few beams of mercy, 
thereby drawing us unto him, and reaching us out a 
hint to lay hold upon. 

And as sin causeth a distance betwixt God and us, 
so the guilt of sin in the conscience, causeth further 
strangeness, insomuch that we dare not look up to 
heaven, till God open a little crevice to let in a little 
hght of comfort at least into our souls, whereby we 
are by httle and httle drawn nearer to him. But this 
light at the first is so little, that in regard of the greater 
sense of sin, and a larger desire of grace, the soul 
reckons the same as no light at all, in comparison of 

286 THE soul's conflict. 

what it desires and seeks after. Yet the comfort is, 
that this dawning hght will at length clear up to a 
perfect day. 

Thus we see how this claim of God to be our God, 
is still in growth until full assurance, and that there 
is a great distance betwixt the first act of faith in 
cleaving to God, offering himself in Christ to be ours, 
and between the last fruit of faith the clear and com- 
fortable feeling, that God is our God indeed. We 
first by faith apply ourselves to God, and then apply 
God to us, to be ours ; the first is the conflicting exer- 
cise of faith, the last is the triumph of faith ; there- 
fore faith properly is not assurance. And to comfort 
us the more, the promises are specially made to the 
act of faith, fuller assurance is the reward of faith. 

If God hath not chosen me in Christ to he his, 
what ground have I to trust in him ? I may cast 
away myself upon a vain confidence. 

We have no ground at first to trouble ourselves 
about God's election. Secret things belong to God ; 
God's revealed will is, that all that believe in Christ 
shall not perish, John iii. 15. It is my duty there- 
fore, knowing this, to believe, by doing whereof, I put 
that question (whether God be mine or no ?) out of all 
question : for all that believe in Christ are Christ's, 
and all that are Christ's are God's. It is not my duty 
to look to God's secret counsel, but to his open offer, 
invitation, and command, and thereupon to adventure 
my soul. And this adventure of faith will bring at 
length a rich return unto us. In war men will adven- 
ture their lives, because they think some will escape, 
and why not they ? In traffic beyond the seas many 
adventure great estates, because some grow rich by a 
good return, though many miscarry. The husband- 


man adventures his seed, though sometime the year 
proves so bad, that he never sees it more : and shall not 
we make a spiritual adventure in casting ourselves 
upon God, when we have so good a warrant as his 
command, and so good an encouragement as his pro- 
mise, that he will not fail those that rely on him ? God 
bids us draw near to him, and he will draw near to 
us. Whilst we in God's own ways draw near to him, 
and labour to entertain good thoughts of him, he will 
delight to show himself favourable unto us. Whilst 
we are striving against an unbelieving heart, he will 
come in and help us, and so fresh hght will come in. 
Pretend not thy unworthiness and inability, to keep 
thee off from God, for this is the way to keep thee 
so still ; if any thing help us, it must be God ; and 
if ever he help us, it must be by casting ourselves 
upon him : for then he will reach out himself unto 
us in the promise of mercy to pardon our sin, and in 
the promise of grace to sanctify our natures. It was 
a good resolution of the lepers, If we enter into the 
city, the famine is there, and we shall c?ie, say they ; 
if we sit still, we shall die also : let us therefore 
fall into the host of Assyrians, if they save us, we 
shall live ; if they kill us, we shall but die. So we 
should reason : if we sit still under the load of our 
sin, we shall die ; if we put ourselves into the hands 
of Christ, if he save us, we shall Hve ; if he save us 
not, we shall but die. Nay, surely he will not suf- 
fer us to die. Did ever Christ thrust any back from 
him, that put themselves upon him ? unless it were 
by that means to draw them the nearer unto him, 
as we see in the woman of Canaan, His denial was 
but to increase her importunity. We should there- 
fore do as she did, gather all arguments to help our 


faith. Suppose I am a dog, saitli she, yet I am one 
of the family, and therefore have right to the crums 
that fall. So, Lord, I have been a sinner, yet I am 
thy creature ; and not only so, but such a creature 
as thou hast set over the rest of the works of thy 
hands ; and not only so, but one whom thou hast 
admitted into thy Church by baptism, whereby thou 
wouldst bind me to give myself unto thee beforehand ; 
and more than this, thou hast brought me under the 
means, and therein hast showed thy will concerning 
my turning towards thee. Thou hast not only offered 
me conditions of peace, but wooed me by thy minis- 
ters to give up myself unto thee, as thine in thy Christ. 
Therefore I dare not suspect thy good meaning to- 
wards me, or question thy intendment, but resolve to 
take thy counsel, and put myself upon thy mercy. 
I cannot think, if thou hadst meant to cast me away, 
and not to own me for thine, thou wouldst ever have 
kindled these desires in me. But it is not this state 
I rest in, my purpose is to wait upon thee, until thou 
dost manifest thyself farther unto me. It is not com- 
mon favours that will content me, though I be un- 
worthy of these, because I hear of choice blessings 
towards thy chosen people, that thou enterest into 
a peculiar covenant withal, sure mercies, Isa. Iv. 3 ; 
and such as accompany salvation. These be the fa- 
vours I wait for at thy hand. visit me with the 
salvation of thy chosen, Psalm cvi. 4, 5. O remem- 
ber me with the favour of thy people, that I may see 
the good of thy chosen. Whilst the soul is thus exer- 
cised, more sweetness falls upon the will and affec- 
tions, whereby they are drawn still nearer unto God. 
The soul is in a getting and thriving condition ; for 
God dehghts to show himself gracious to those that 


strive to be well persuaded of him, concerning his 
readiness to show mercy to all that look towards him 
in Christ. In worldly things, how do we cherish 
hopes upon little grounds ? if there shineth never so 
little hope of gain or preferment, we make after it : 
why then should we forsake our own mercy, which 
God offers to be our own, if we will embrace it, hav- 
ing such certain grounds for our hope to rest on ? 

It was the pohcy of the servants of Benhadad to 
watch if any word of comfort fell from the King of 
Israel, and when he named Benhadad his brother, 
they catched presently at that, and cheered them- 
selves. Faith hath a catching quality at whatsoever 
is near to lay hold on. Like the branches of the vine, 
it windeth about that which is next, and stays itself 
upon it, spreading further and further still. If nature 
taught Benhadad's servants to lay hold upon any 
word of comfort that fell from the mouth of a cruel 
king, shall not grace teach God's children to lie in 
wait for a token that he will show for good to them ? 
How should we stretch forth the arms o^ om: faith 
to him, that stretcheth out his arms ail the day 
long to a rebellious people ? Isa. Ixv. 2. God will 
never shut his bosom against those, that in an humble 
obedience fly unto him : we cannot conceive too 
graciously of God. Can we have a fairer offer, than 
for God in Christ to make over himself unto us? 
which is more than if he should make over a thou- 
sand worlds ; therefore our chief care should be first 
by faith to make this good, and then to make it use- 
ful unto us, by living upon it as our chiefest portion, 
which we shall do ; i. By proving God to be our God 
in particular ; 2. By improving of it in all the pas- 
sages of our lives. 


290 THE soul's conflict. 


Means of proving and evidencing to our souls that 
God is our God, 

NOW we prove it to our souls, that God is ours, 
when we take him at his offer, when we bring 
nothing but a sense of our own emptiness with us, 
and a good conceit of his faithfulness and ability to 
do us good, when we answer God in the particular 
pass'ages of salvation, which we cannot do, till he be- 
gins unto us. Therefore if we be God's, it is a certain 
sign that God is ours. If we choose him, we may 
conclude he hath chosen us first. If we love him, 
we may know that he hath loved us Jirst, 1 John iv. 
19. If we apprehend him , it is because he hath appre- 
hended us first. Whatsoever affection we show to 
God, it is a reflection of his first to us. If cold and 
dark bodies have light and heat in them, it is because 
the sun hath shined upon them first. Mary answers 
not Rabboni till Christ said Mary to her. If we say 
to God, I am thine, it is because he hath first said 
unto us, Thou art mine ; after which, the voice of the 
faithful soul is, / am my beloved's^ and my beloved is 
mine. We may know God's mind to us in heaven, 
by the return of our hearts upwards again to him : 
only as the reflected beams are weaker than the direct, 
so our aflections in their return to God, are far weaker 
than his love falling upon us. God will be to us 
whatsoever we make him by our faith to be ; when 
by grace we answer his condition of trusting, then he 
becomes ours to use for our good. 

2. We may know God to be our God when we 
pitch and plant all our happiness in him, when the 

THE soul's conflict. 291 

desires of our souls are towards him, and we place all 
our contentment in him. As this word {mij) is a term 
of appropriation springing from a special faith, so it 
is a word of love and peculiar affection, showing that 
the soul doth repose and rest itself quietly and securely 
upon God. Thus David proves God to be his God, 
by early seeking of him, by thirsting, and longing 
after his presence, and that upon good reason, be- 
cause God's loving kindness was better to him than 
life ; this he knew would satisfy his soul as with mar- 
row and fatness. So St. Paul proved Christ to be his 
Lord, by accounting all else as dung and dross in 
comparison of him. 

Then we make God our God, and set a crown of 
majesty upon his head, when we set up a throne for 
him in our hearts, where self-love before had set up 
the creature above him ; when the heart is so unloosed 
from the world, that it is ready to part with any thing 
for God's sake, giving him now the supremacy in our 
hearts, and bringing down every high thought, in cap- 
tivity to him ; making him our trust, our love, our 
joy, our delight, our fear, our all ; and whatsoever we 
esteem or affect else, to esteem and affect it under 
him, in him, and for him; when we cleave to him 
above all, depending upon him as our chief good, 
and contenting ourselves in him, as all-sufficient to 
give our souls fit and full satisfaction. When we re- 
sign up ourselves to his gracious government, to do 
and suffer what he will, offering ourselves and all our 
spiritual services as sacrifices to him ; when faith 
brings God into the soul as ours, we not only love 
him, but love him dearly, making it appear, that we 
are at good terms with God, we are at a point for other 
things. How many are there that will adventure the 

292 THE soul's CONFLICT. \ 

loss of the love of God for a thing of nothing, and 
redeem the favour of men v^ith the loss of God's ? cer- 
tain it is whatsoever we esteem, or affect most, that 
whatsoever it be in itself, yet we make it our god. 
The best of us all may take shame to ourselves herein 
in that we do not give God his due place in us, but 
set up some idol or other in our hearts above him. 

When the soul can without hypocrisy say. My God, 
it engageth us to universal and unlimited obedience, 
we shall be ambitious of doing that which may be ac- 
ceptable and well pleasing to him ; and therefore this 
is prefixed as a ground before the Commandments, 
enforcing obedience 2 I am the Lord thy God, there- 
fore thou shalt have no other Gods before me, Exod. 
XX. whomsoever else we obey, it must be in the Lord, 
because we see a beam of God's authority in them ; 
and it is no prejudice to any inferior authority, to 
prefer God's authority before it, in case of difference 
one from the other. 

When we know we are a peculiar people, we can- 
not but be zealous of good works. If I be a Father, 
where is mine honour ? special relations are special 
enforcements to duty. 

4. The Spirit of God, which knows the deep things 
of God, and the depths of our hearts, doth reveal this 
mutual interest betwixt God and those that are his, it 
being a principal work of the spirit to seal this unto 
the soul, by discovering such a clear and particular 
light in the use of means, as swayeth the soul to yield 
up itself wholly to God. When we truly trust, we 
may say with St. Paul, / know whom I have trusted ; 
he knew both that he trusted, and whom he trusted. 
The Spirit of God that reveals God to be ours, and 
stirs up faith in him, both reveals this trust to our 


souls, and the interest we have in God thereby. The 
Lord is my portion, saith my soul : but God said so 
to it first. If instinct of nature teaches dams to know 
their young ones, and their young ones them, in the 
midst of those that are ahke ; shall not the Spirit of 
God much more teach the soul to know its own father ? 
as none knows what is in man, but the spirit of man, 
so none knows what love God bears to those that are 
his, but the Spirit of God in his : all the light in the 
world cannot discover the sun unto us, only it disco- 
vers itself by its own beams. So all the angels and 
saints in heaven cannot discover to our souls the 
love that is in the breast of God towards us, but only 
the Spirit of God, which sheds it into our hearts, 
Rom. V. 5. The Spirit only teaches this language, 
My God. It is infused only into sanctified hearts ; 
and therefore ofttimes mean men enjoy it, when great, 
wise, and learned persons are strangers to it. Matt. 
xi. 25. 

5. The Spirit when it witnesseth this to us is called 
the Spirit of adoption, and hath always accompanying 
of it a spirit of supphcation, whereby with a famihar, 
yet reverend boldness, we lay open our hearts to God 
as a dear father ; all others are strangers to this hea- 
venly intercourse. In straits they run to their friends 
and carnal shifts, whereas an heir of heaven runs to 
his father, and tells him of all. 

6. Those that are God's, are known to be his by 
special love- tokens that he bestows upon them. As 
1. The special graces of his Spirit. Princes* children 
are known by their costly jewels, and rich ornaments. 
It is not common gifts, and glorious parts that set a 
character upon us to be God's, but grace to use those 
gifts, in humility and love, to the glory of the giver. 

294 THE soul's conflict. 

2. Tliere is in them a suitableness and cpnnatu- 
ralness of heart to all that is spiritual, to whatsoever 
hath God's stamp upon it, as his truth and his children, 
and that because they are his. By this likeness of 
disposition, we are fashioned to a communion with 
him : can two walk together, and not be agreed ? it 
is a certain evidence that we are God's in Christ, if 
the Spirit of God hath wrought in us any impression 
like unto Christ, who is the image of his Father : both 
Christ looking upon us, and our looking upon Christ 
by faith, as ours, hath a transforming and conforming 

3. Spiritual comforts in distress, such as the world 
can neither give, nor take away, show that God looks 
upon the souls of his with another eye, than he behold- 
eth others. He sends a secret messenger that reports his 
peculiar love to their hearts. He knows their souls, 
and feeds them with his hidden manna ? the inward 
peace they feel is not in freedom from trouble, but in 
freeness with God in the midst of trouble. 

4. Seasonable and sanctified corrections, whereby 
we are kept from being led away by the error of the 
wicked, show God's fatherly care over us as his. Who 
will trouble himself in correcting another man's child ? 
yet we oftener complain of the smart we feel, than 
think of the tender heart and hand that smites us, 
until our spirits be subdued, and then we reap the 
quiet fruit of righteousness. Where crosses work to- 
gether for the best, we may know that we love God^ 
Rom. viii. 28, and are loved of him. Thriving in a 
sinful course is a black mark of one that is not God's. 

5. Then we make it appear that God is our God, 
when we side with him, and are for him and his cause 
in ill times^ When God seems to cry out unto us, 


THE soul's conflict. 295 

'ho is on my side, who ? then if we can say as those 
in Isaiah, whereof one says, I am the Lord's, and ano- 
ther calls himself % the name of Jacob, and another 
subscribes with his hand unto the Lord, it is a blessed 
sign. Thus the patriarchs and prophets, apostles 
and martyrs, were not ashamed of God, and God 
was not ashamed to own them. Provided that this 
boldness for God proceed not only from a conviction of 
the judgment, but from spiritual experience of the 
goodness of the cause, whereby we can justify in heart 
what we justify in words. Otherwise men may con- 
tend for that with others, which they have no interest 
in themselves. The Hfe must witness for God as 
well as the tongue : it is oft easier for corrupt nature 
to part with life rather than with lust. 

This siding with God, is with a separation from 
whatsoever is contrary. God useth this as an argu- 
ment to come out of Babylon, because we are his peo- 
ple ; Come out of her, my people. Religion is nothing 
else but a gathering and a binding of the soul close 
to God : that fire which gathers together the gold, 
separates the dross. Nature draws out that which is 
wholesome in meats, and severs the contrary. The 
good that is to be had by God, is by cleaving to him, 
and him only. God loves an ingenuous and full pro- 
testation, if called to it. It shows the coldness of the 
times when there is not heat enough of zeal to sepa- 
rate from a contrary faith. God is a jealous God, 
and so we shall find him at last. When the day of 
severing comes, then they that have stood for him, 
shall not only be his, but his treasure, and his jewels. 
Mai iii. 17. 

There is none of us all but may some time or other 
fall into such a great extremity, that when we look 

296 THE soul's COS^FLICT. 

about us, we shall find none to help us : at which 
time we shall throughly know, what it is to have com- 
fort from heaven, and a God to go unto. If there 
be any thing in the world worth labouring for, it is 
the getting sound evidence to our souls that God is 
ours. What madness is it to spend all our labour, 
to possess ourselves of the cistern when the fountain is 
offered to us? O beloved, the whole world cannot 
weigh against this one comfort, that God is ours. All 
things laid in the other balance, would be too light. 
A moth may corrupt, a thief may take away that we 
have here, but who can take our God away ? though 
God doth convey some comfort to us by these things, 
yet when they are gone, he reserves the comfort in 
himself still, and can convey that, and more, in a 
purer and sweeter way, where he plants the grace of 
faith to fetch it from him. Why then should we 
weaken our interest in God, for any thing this earth 
affords? what unworthy wretches are those, that to 
please a sinful man, or to feed a base lust, or to yield 
to a wicked custom, will, as much as in them lieth, 
lose their interest in God? such httle consider what 
an excellent privilege it is to have a sure refuge to 
fly unto in time of trouble. God wants not ways to 
maintain his, without being beholden to the devil : 
he hath all help hid in himself, and will then most 
show it, when it shall make most for his own glory. 
If God be ours, it is a shame to be beholden to the 
devil, that ever it should be said, Satan by base 
courses hath made us rich. God thinks any outward 
thing too mean for his children, severed from himself, 
therefore he gives his Son, the express image of him- 
self, unto them. For which cause David, when he had 
even studied to retkon up the number of God's choice 


blessings, concludes with advancing of this above all, 
yea rather happy are they whose God is the Lord. 
If this will not satisfy the soul, what can ? Labour 
therefore to bring thy soul to this point with God, 
Lord, if thou seest it Jit, take away all from me, 
so thou leavest me thyself: whom have I in heaven 
but thee, and there is none on earth that I desire 
in comparison of thee ? 


Of improving our Evidences for Comfort in several 
passages of our Lives, 

THAT we lose not any measure of comfort in this 
so sweet a privilege, we must labour for skill to 
improve, and implead the same in the several passages 
and occasions of our lives, and let it appear in the retail, 
that whatsoever, is in God is mine : if I am in a per- 
plexed condition, his wisdom is mine : if m great dan- 
ger, his power is mine ; if I lie sighing under the bur- 
then of sin, his grace is mine : if in any want, his 
all-sufficiency is mine. My God, saith St. Paul, will 
supply all your wants. If in any danger, / am thine, 
Lord, save me, I am thine, the price of thy Son's blood, 
let me not be lost, thou hast given me the earnest of 
thy Spirit, and set thy seal upon me for thy own, let 
me neither lose my bargain, nor thou thine. What 
is religion itself but a spiritual bond ? whereby the 
soul is tied to God as its own, and then singles out 
of God whatsoever is needful for any occasion : and 
so binds God with his own covenant and promise. 
Lord, thou hast made thyself to be mine, therefore 
now show thyself so, and be exalted in thy wisdom, 
goodness, andpower,for my defence. To walk com- 

298 THE soul's conflict. 

fortahly in my Christian course, I need much grace, 
supply me out of thy rich store, I need wisdom to 
go in and out inoffensively before others, furnish me 
with thy Spirit, I need patience and comfort, thou 
that art the God of all consolation, bestow it on me. 

In time of desertion put Christ betwixt God and 
thy soul, and learn to appeal, from God out of Christ, 
to God in Christ. Lord, look upon my Saviour, that 
is near unto thee as thy son, near to me as my brother, 
and now intercedes at thy right hand for me ; though 
I have sinned, yet he hath suffered, and shed his pre- 
cious blood to make my peace. When we are in any 
trouble, let us still wait on him, and lie at his feet, 
and never let him go till he casts a gracious look 
upon us. 

So if we be to deal with God, for the Church 
abroad, we may allege unto him that whatsoever 
provocations are therein, and deformity in regard of 
abuses and scandals ; yet it is his Church, his people, 
his inheritance, his name is called upon in it, and the 
enemies of it are his enemies. God hath engaged 
himself to the friends of the Church, that they shall 
prosper that love it. Psalm cxxii. 6 ; and therefore 
we may with a holy boldness press him for a blessing 
upon the same. 

So for our children and posterity, we may incline 
God to respect them, because they are under his 
covenant, who hath promised to be our God, and 
the God of our seed, John xvii. ; thine they were, 
thou gavest them me : all that I have is thine, these 
are those children luhich thou of thy rich grace 
hast given me. They are thine more than mine ; 
I am but a means under thee to bring them into the 
world, and to be a nurse unto thy children; take 

THE soul's conflict. 299 

care therefore of thine own children, I beseech thee, 
especially, when I can take no care of them myself ; 
thou slumberest not, thou diest not, I must. 

Flesh and blood think nothing is cared for, but 
what it seeth cared for by itself. It hath no eyes to 
see a guard of providence, a guard of angels. It 
takes no knowledge that that is best cared for, that 
God cares for. Those that have God for their God, 
have enlarged hearts as they have enlarged comforts. 
They have an everlasting spring that supphes them 
in all wants, refreshes them in all troubles, and then 
runs most clearly and freshly, when all other streams 
in the world are dried and stopped up. Were we 
skilful in the art of faith, to improve so great an in- 
terest, what in the world could much dismay us? 
faith will set God against all. 

It should fill our hearts with an holy indignation 
against ourselves, if either we rest in a condition, 
wherein we cannot truly say, God is our God, or, if 
when we can in some sincerity of heart say this, that 
we make no better advantage thereby, and maintain 
not ourselves answerable to such a condition. What 
a shame is it for a nobleman's son to live like a beg- 
gar ? for a great rich man to live like a poor peasant ? 
to famish at a banquet? to fall when we have so 
many stays to lay hold on ? Whereas if we could 
make this clear to our souls, that God is ours, and 
then take up our thoughts with the great riches we 
have in him, laid open in Christ, and in the promises, 
we need trouble ourselves about nothing, but only 
get a large vessel of faith, to receive what is offered, 
nay enforced upon us. 

When we can say, God is our God, it is more than 
if we could say. Heaven is mine ; or whatever good 

300 THE soul's conflict. 

the creature affords is mine. Alas, what is all this, 
to be able to say, God is mine, who hath in him the 
sweetness of all these things, and infinitely more? If 
God be ours, goodness itself is ours. If he be not 
ours, though we had all things else, yet ere long 
nothing would be ours. What a wondrous comfort is 
this, that God hath put himself over to be ours? 
That a believing soul may say with as great con- 
fidence, and greater too, that God is his, than he can 
say his house is his, his treasure is his, his friends 
are his ? Nothing is so much ours as God is ours, 
because by his being ours in covenant, all other things 
become ours : and if God be once ours, well may we 
trust in him. God and ours joined together, make 
up the full comfort of a christian. [God] there is all 
to be had ; but what is that to me, unless he be my 
God? All-sufficiency with propriety, fully stayeth 
the soul, 

David was now banished from the sanctuary, from 
his friends, habitation, and former comforts ; but was 
he banished from his God ? No, God was his God 
still. When riches, and friends, and life itself cease 
to be ours, yet God never loseth his right in us, nor 
we our interest in him. This comfort that God is 
ours, reacheth unto the resurrection of our bodies, 
and to life everlasting, God is the God of Abraham, 
and so of every true behever, even when his body is 
turned into dust. Hence it is that the loving kind- 
ness of the Lord is better than life, because when 
life departs, yet we live for ever in him. When 
Moses saw the people drop away so fast in the wil- 
derness, and wither like grass, Thouttrt our founda- 
tion, s^dth. he, from one generation to another: thou 
art God from everlasting to everlasting. When we 

THE soul's conflict. 301 

leave the world, and are no more seen here, yet we 
have a dwelling place in God for ever. God is ours 
from everlasting in election, and to everlasting in 
glory, protecting us here, and glorifying us hereafter. 
David that claimed God to be his God is gone, but 
David's God is alive. And David himself, though 
his flesh see corruption^ yet is alive in his God still. 

That which is said of wily persons that are full of 
fetches and windings, and turnings in the world, that 
such will never break, may much more truly be said 
of a right godly man, that hath but one grand policy 
to secure him in all dangers, which is to run to his 
God as to his tower of offence and defence : such a 
one will never be at a desperate loss so long as God 
hath any credit, because he never faileth those that 
fly unto him, and that because his mercy and truth 
never fails. The very lame and the blind, the most 
shiftless creatures, when they had gotten the strong 
hold of Zion, thought then they might securely scorn 
David and his host, 2 Sam. v. 6, 7, because though 
they were weak in themselves, yet their hold was 
strong ; but we see their hold failed them at length, 
which a Christian's will never do. 

But God seems to have small care of those that 
are his in the world, those who believe themselves to 
be his jewels, are counted the ofF-scouring of the 
world, and most despised. 

We must know that such have a glorious life in 
God, but it is hidden with Christ in God, from the 
eyes of the world, and sometimes from their own ; 
here they are hidden under infirmities, afflictions, and 
disgraces, but yet never so hidden, but that God 
sometimes lets down a beam of comfort and strength, 
which they would not lose to be freed from their pre- 

302 THE soul's conflict. 

sent condition, though never so grievous. God 
comes more immediately to them now, than formerly 
he was used ; nay, even when God seems to forsake 
them, and to be their enemy, yet they are supported 
with such inward strength, that they are able to make 
good their claim with Christ their head, and cry, My 
God still ; God never so departs, but he always leaves 
somewhat behind him, which draws and keeps the 
heart to him. We are like poor Hagar, who when 
the bottle of water was spent fell a crying, Gen. 
xxi. 13, when there was a fountain close by, but her 
tears hindered her from seeing it ; when things go ill 
with us in our trades and calHngs, and all is spent, 
then our spirits droop, and we are at our wits' end, as 
if God were not where he was. Oh, consider if we 
had all and had not God, we had nothing : if we 
have nothing, and have God, we have enough, for 
we have him that hath all, and more than all at his 
command. If we had all other comforts that our 
hearts can desire, yet if God withdraw himself, what 
remains but a curse and emptiness ? What makes 
heaven but the presence of God ? And what makes 
hell but the absence of God ? Let God be in any 
condition, though never so ill, yet it is comfortable, 
and usually we find more of God in trouble, than 
when we are out of trouble ; the comforts of religion 
never come till others fail. Cordials are kept for 
faintings. When a curtain and a veil is drawn be- 
twixt us and the creature, then our eyes are only up- 
ward to God, and he is more clearly seen of us. 

In the division of things God bequeaths himself to 
those that are his, for their portion, as the best por- 
tion he can give them. There are many goodly 
things in the world, but none of these are a christian's 


portion ; there is in him to supply all good, and re- 
move all ill, until the time come that we stand in 
need of no other good. It is our chief wisdom to 
know him, our holiness to love him, our happiness to 
enjoy him. There is in him to be had whatsoever 
can truly make us happy. We go to our treasure, 
and our portion in all our wants, we live by it, and 
value ourselves by it. God is such a portion, that 
the more we spend on him, the more we may. Our 
strength may fail ^ and our heart may fail ^ but God 
is our portion for ever, Psalm Ixxiii. 26. Every 
thing else teaches us by the vanity and vexation we 
find in them, that our happiness is not in them, they 
send us to God ; they may make us worse, but bet- 
ter they cannot. Our nature is above them, and 
ordained for a greater good ; they can go but along 
with us for a while, and their end swallows up all the 
comfort of their beginning, as Pharaoh's lean kine 
swallowed up the fat. If we have no better portion 
here than these things, we are like to have hell for 
our portion hereafter. What a shame will it be here- 
after when we are stript of all, that it should be said, 
Lo, this is the man that took not God for his portion. 
If God be once ours, he goes for ever along with us, 
and when earth will hold us no longer, heaven shall. 
Who that hath his senses about him, would perish 
for want of water, when there is a fountain by him ? 
or for hunger, that is at a feast ? God alone is a 
rich portion ; O then let us labour for a large faith, 
as we have a large object ; if we had a thousand 
times more faith, we should have a thousand times 
more increase of God's blessings. When the prophet 
came to the widow's house, as many vessels as she 
had were filled with oil, 1 Kings xvii. 14; we are 


straitened in our own faith, but not straitened in our 
God. It falls out oft in this world that God's people 
are like Israel at the Red Sea, environed with dan- 
gers on all sides : what course have we then to take 
but only to look up and wait for the salvation of our 
God ? This is a breast full of consolation, let us 
teach our hearts to suck, and draw comfort from 

Is God our God ; and will he suffer anything to 
befall us for our hurt ? Will he lay any more upon 
us, than he gives us strength to bear ? Will he suf- 
fer any wind to blow upon us but for good ? Doth 
he not set us before his face ? Will a father or mo- 
ther suffer a child to be wronged in their presence, if 
they can help it ? Will a friend suffer his friend to 
be injured, if he may redress him ? And will God, 
that hath put these affections into parents and friends, 
neglect the care of those he hath taken so near unto 
himself? No surely, his eyes are open to look upon 
their condition ; his ears are open to their prayers ; 
a book of remembrance , Mai. iii. 16, is written of all 
their good desires, speeches, and actions ; he hath 
bottles for all their tears, their very sighs are not hid 
from him ; he hath written them upon the palms of 
his hands, and cannot but continually look upon them. 
Oh let us prize the favour of so good a God, who 
though he dwells on high yet will regard things so 
low, and not neglect the mean estate of any ; nay, 
especially delights to be called the comforter of his 
elect, and the God of those that are in misery, and 
have none to fly unto but himself. 

But we must know that God only thus graciously 
visits his own children, he visits with his choicest fa- 
vours those only that fear his name. As for those 


that either secretly undermine, or openly oppose the 

cause and church of God, and join with his enemies ; 

such as savour not the things of God, but commit ,\^, / 

spiritual idolatry, and adultery with God's enemies, 1^ 

the world, and the devil ; God will answer these, as 

once he did the Israelites, when in their necessity they 

would have forced acquaintance upon him, Go to the 

gods whom ye have served, Judges x. 14, to the great 

men whose persons you have obeyed for advantage : 

to your riches, to your pleasures, which you have loved 

more than God or goodness : you would not lose a 

base custom, an oath, a superfluity, a thing of nothing 

for me, therefore I will not own you now. Such 

men are more impudent than the devil himself, that 

will claim acquaintance with God at last, when they 

have carried themselves as his enemies all their days. 

Satan could tell Paul and Silas, they were the ser- 

vdnts of the living God, Acts xvi. 17 ; but he would 

not make that plea for himself, knowing that he was 

a cursed creature. 

Miserable then is their condition who live in the 
world, nay, in the church, without God. Such are 
in a worse estate than Pagans and Jews ; for living 
in the house of God, they are strangers from God, 
and from the covenant of grace ; usurping the name 
of Christians, having indeed nothing to do with 

Some of these like spiritual vagabonds, as Cain, 
excommunicate themselves from God's presence in 
the use of the means ; or rather like devils, that will 
have nothing to do with God ; because they are loath 
to be tormented before their time ; they think every 
good sermon an arraigning of them, and therefore 
keep out of reach. 

30^ TiiE soul's conflict. 

Others will present themselves under the means, 
and carry some savour away with them of what they 
hear, but it is only till they meet with the next temp- 
tation, unto which they yield themselves presently 
slaves. These showed themselves under a general 
profession, as they did, who called themselves Jews, 
and were nothing less. But alas, an empty title will 
bring an empty comfort at last. It was cold comfort 
to the rich man in flames, Luke xvi., that Abraham 
called him son. Or to Judas, that Christ called him 
friend. Or to the rebelhous Jews, that God styles 
them his people. Such as our profession is, such 
will our comfort be. True profession of religion is 
another thing than most men take it to be ; it is 
made up of the outward duty, and the inward man 
too ; which is indeed the life and soul of all. What 
the heart doth not in religion, is not done. 

God cares for no retainers that will only wear his 
livery, but serve themselves. What hast thou to do 
to take his name into thy mouth, and hat est to be 
reformed? Saul lived in the bosom of the Church, 
yet (being a cruel tyrant) when he was in a desperate 
plunge, his outward profession did him no good ; 
and therefore when he was environed with his ene- 
mies, he uttered this doleful complaint, God hath 
forsaken me, and the Philistines are upon me; a 
pitiful case ; yet so will it be with all those that rest 
in an outward profession, thinking it enough to com- 
pliment with God, when their hearts are not right 
within them. Such will at length be forced to cry. 
Sickness is upon me, death is upon me, hell is before 
me, and God hath forsaken me. I would have none 
of God heretofore, now God will have none of me. 
When David himself had offended God by numbering 


the people, then God counted him but plain David, 
Go and say to David, &c. whereas before, when he 
purposed to build a temple, then Go, tell my servant 
David, When the Israelites had set up an idol, then 
God fathers them on Moses, Thy people which thou 
hast brought out of Egypt : he would not own them 
as at other times, then ; they are my people still whilst 
they keep covenant. No care, no present comfort 
in this near relation. 

The price of the pearl is not known till all else be 
sold, and we see the necessary use of it. So the 
worth of God in Christ is never discerned, till we see 
our lost and undone condition without him, till con- 
science flies in our faces, and drags us to the brink of 
hell ; then if ever we taste how good the Lord is, we 
will say, Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord, 
Heretofore I have heard of his loving kindness, but 
that is not a thousandth part of what I see and feel. 
The joy I now apprehend is unutterable, uncon- 

Oh then, when we have gotten our souls possessed 
of God, let our study be to preserve ourselves in his 
love, to walk close with him, that he may delight to 
abide with us, and never forsake us. How basely 
doth the Scripture speak of whatsoever stands in our 
way? It makes nothing of them. What is man but 
vanity, and less than vanity? All nations but as 
a drop of the bucket, as the dust of a balance ; things 
not at all considerable. Flesh looks upon them as 
through a multiplying glass, making them greater 
than they are ; but faith, as God doth, sees them as 

This is such a blessed condition, as may well chal- 
lenge all our diligence in labouring to be assured of 

308 THE soul's conflict. 

it ; neither is it to be attained or maintained without 
the strength and prime of our care. I speak espe- 
cially of, and in regard of the sense and comfort of 
it. For the sense of God's favour will not be kept 
without keeping him in our best affections above all 
things in the world, without keeping of our hearts 
always close and near to him, which cannot be with- 
out keeping a most narrow watch over our loose and 
unsettled hearts, that are ready to stray from God, 
and fall to the creature. It cannot be kept without 
exact and circumspect walking, without constant 
self-denial, without a continual preparation of spirit, 
to want and forsake anything that God seeth fit to 
take from us. 

But what of all this ? Can we cross ourselves, or 
spend our labours to better purpose ? one sweet beam 
of God's countenance will requite all this. We beat 
not the air, we plough not in the sand, neither sow 
in a barren soil, God is no barren wilderness. Nay, 
he never shows so much of himself, as in suffering, 
and parting with anything for him, and denying our- 
selves of that which we think stands not with his wilL 
Great persons require great observance. We can 
deny ourselves, and have mens' persons in great ad- 
miration, for hope of some advantage; and is any 
more willing and more able to advance us than the 
great all-sufficient God ? A Christian, indeed, under- 
goes more troubles, takes more pains (especially with 
his own heart) than others do. But what are these 
to his gains ? What return so rich, as trading with 
God? What comforts so great as these that are 
fetched from the fountain ? One day spent in en- 
joying the hght of God's countenance is sweeter 
than a thousand without it. We see here, when 


David was not only shut out from all comforts, but 
lay under many grievances, what a fruitful use he 
makes of this, that God was his God. It upholdeth 
his dejected, it stilleth his unquiet soul : it leadeth 
him to the rock that was higher than he, and there 
stayeth him. It filleth him with comfortable hopes 
of better times to come. It sets him above himself, 
and all troubles and fears whatsoever. 

Therefore wait still in the use of means till God 
shine upon thee ; yea, though we know our sins in 
Christ are pardoned, yet there is something more 
that a gracious heart waits for, that is, a good look 
from God, a further enlargement of heart, and an 
estabhshing in grace. It was not enough for David 
to have his sins pardoned, but to recover the joy oj 
salvation, diXidi freedom of spirit, Psalm h. There- 
fore the soul should always be in a waiting condition, 
even until it be filled with the fulness of God, as much 
as it is capable of. Neither is it quiet alone, or com- 
fort alone, that the soul longs after, no, nor the fa- 
vour of God alone, but a gracious heart to walk 
worthy of God. It rests not whilst anything re- 
mains, that may breed the least strangeness betwixt 
God and us. 


Of Experience and Faith, and how to wait on God 
comfortably. Helps thereto, 

MY GOD. These words further imply a special 
experience, that David's soul had felt of the 
goodness of God, he had found God distilling the 
comfort of his goodness and truth through the pro- 
mises, and he knew he should find God again the 

310 THE soul's conflict. * 

same he was, if he put him in mind of his former gra- 
cious deahng. His soul knew right well, how good 
God was, and he could seal to those truths he had 
found comfort by, therefore he thus speaks to his soul : 
My soul, what, my soul, that hast found God so good, 
so oft, so many ways, thou my soul to be discou- 
raged, having God, and my God, with whom I have 
taken so much sweet counsel, and felt so much com- 
fort from, and found always heretofore to stick so 
close unto me ? Why shouldst thou now be in such 
a case, as if God and thou had been strangers one 
to another. If we could treasure up experiments, 
the former part of our life would come in to help the 
latter, and the longer we live, the richer in faith we 
should be. Even as in victories, every former over- 
throw of an enemy helps to obtain a succeeding vic- 
tory. The use of a sanctified memory is to lose 
nothing that may help in time of need. He had 
need be a well tried, and a known friend, upon whom 
we lay all our salvation and comfort. 

We ought to trust God upon other grounds, 
though we had never tried him : but when he helps 
our faith by former experience, this should strengthen 
our confidence, and shore up our spirits, and put us 
on to go more cheerfully to God, as to a tried friend. 
If we were well read in the story of our own lives, we 
might have a divinity of our own, drawn out of the 
observation of God's particular dealing towards us ; 
we might say this and this truth, I dare venture upon, 
I have found it true, I dare build all my happiness 
upon it. As Paul, / know whom I have trusted, I 
have tried him, he never yet failed m^, I am not now 
to learn how faithful he is to those that are his. 
Every new experience is a new knowledge of God^ 
and should fit us for new encounters. If we have 

THE soul's conflict. 311 

been good in former times, God remembers the kind- 
ness of our youth, Jer. ii. 2 ; we should therefore re- 
member the kindness of God even from our youth. 
Evidence of what we have felt, helps our faith in 
that, which for the present we feel not. 

Though it be one thing to live by faith, and another 
thing to live by sight, yet the more we see, and feel, 
and taste of God, the more we shall be led to rely on 
him, for that which as yet we neither see nor feel : 
Because thou hast been my helper, saith David, there- 
fore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice, Psalm 
Ixiii. 7. The time was. Lord, when thou shewedst thy- 
self a gracious Father to me, and thou art unchange* 
able in thy nature, in thy love, and in thy gifts. 

Yea, when there is no present evidence, but God 
shows himself as contrary to us, yet a former taste of 
God's goodness will enable to lay claim unto him 
still. God's concealing of himself is but a wise disci- 
pline for a time, until we be enabled to bear the full 
revealing of himself unto us for ever. In the mean 
time, though we have some sight and feeUng in God, 
yet our constant living is not by it : the evidence of 
that we see not, is that which more constantly up- 
holds the soul, than the evidence of any thing we see 
or feel. 

Yea, though our experience by reason of our not 
minding of it in trouble, seems many times to stand us 
in no stead, but we fare as if God had never looked 
in mercy upon us : yet, even here, some virtue re- 
mains of former sense, which with the present spirit 
of faith, help us to look upon God as ours. As we 
have a present strength from food received, and di- 
gested before, vessels are something the better for 
that liquor they keep not, but runs through them. 

But if experience should wholly fail, there is such 

312 THE soul's conflict. 

a divine power in faith, as a very little beam of it, 
having no other help than a naked promise, will up- 
hold the soul ; howsoever, we must neglect no help, 
for God oft suspends his comfort till we have searched 
all our helps. Though we see no light, yet we ought 
to search all crevices for light, and rejoice in the least 
beam of light, that we may see day by. It is the 
nature of true faith, to search and pry into every 
corner, and if after all, nothing appears, then it casts 
itself upon God as in the first conversion, when it 
had nothing to look upon but the offer of free mercy. 
If at that time without former experience, we did 
trust God, why not now, when we have forgotten 
our experience ? The chief grounds of trusting God 
are always the same, whether we feel or feel not ; 
nay, though for the present we feel the contrary^ 
faith will never leave wrestling, till it hatli gotten a 
blessing. When faith is driven to work alone, hav- 
ing nothing but God, and his bare promise to rely 
upon, then God thinks it hes upon his credit to show 
himself as a God unto us. God's power in creating 
hght out of darkness is never more exalted, than 
when a guilty soul is lift up by God to look for mercy, 
even when he seems armed with justice, to execute 
vengeance upon him, then the soul is brought to a 
near conformity unto Christ, who, 1. when he had 
the guilt of the sins of the whole world upon him ; 
2. when he was forsaken, and then after he had 
enjoyed the sweetest communion with his Father that 
ever creature could do ; and not only so, but, 3. felt 
the weight of ^God's just displeasure against sin ; and, 
4. was abased lower than ever any creature was : yet 
still he held fast God as his God. 

In earthly matters, if we have a title to any thing 

THE soul's conflict. 313 

by gift, contract, inheritance, or howsoever, we will 
not be wrangled out of our right. And shall we not 
maintain our right in God, against all the tricks and 
cavils of Satan and our own hearts ? We must la- 
bour to have something, that we may show that we 
are within the covenant. If we be never so little en- 
tered into the covenant, we are safe. And herein 
hes the special comfort of sincerity, that though our 
grace be little, yet it is of the right stamp, and 
shows us, that we are servants, and sons, though 
unworthy to be so. Here a little truth will go far. 
Hence it is that the saints in all their extremities 
still allege something, that shows that they are within 
the covenant, ive are thy children^ thy people, and 
thy servants, &c. God is mindful of his covenant, 
but is well pleased, that we should mind him of it 
too, and mind it ourselves to make use of it, as David 
doth here. He knew if he could bring his soul to 
his God, all would be quiet. 

God is so ready to mercy, that he delighteth in it, 
and delighteth in Christ, through whom he may show 
mercy, notwithstanding his justice, as being fully sa- 
tisfied in Christ. Mercy is his name that he will be 
known by. It is his glory which we behold in the 
face of Christ, who is nothing but grace and mercy 
itself. Nay, he pleads reasons for mercy, even from 
the sinfulness and misery of his creature, and main- 
tains his own mercy against all the wrangling cavils 
of flesh and blood, that would put mercy from them ; 
and hearken more willingly to Satan's objections, than 
God's arguments, till at length God subdues their 
spirits so far, as they become ashamed for standing 
out so long against him. How ready will God be 
to show mercy to us when we seek it, that thus pres^ 

314 THE soul's COXFLICT. 

seth upon us, when we seem to refuse it ? If God 
should take advantage of our waywardness, what 
would become of us ? Satan's course is to discourage 
those that God would have encouraged, and to en- 
courage those whom God never speaks peace unto, 
and he thinks to gain both ways. Our care there- 
fore should be when we resolve upon God's ways, to 
labour that no discouragement fasten upon us, seeing 
God and his word speak all comfort to us. 

And because the best of a Christian is to come, 
we should raise up our spirits to wait upon God, for 
that mercy which is yet to come. All inferior wait- 
ings for good things here, do but train us up in the 
comfortable expectation of the main. 

This waiting on God requires a great strength of 
grace, by reason not only, 1. of the excellency of 
the things waited for, which are far beyond anything 
we can hope for in the world. But, 2. in regard of 
the long day which God takes before he performeth 
his promise, and, 3. from thence the tediousness of 
delay. 4. The many troubles of hfe in our way. 

5. The great opposition we meet with in the world ; 

6. and scandals ofttimes even from them that are in 
great esteem for religion ; 7. together with the unto- 
wardness of our nature in being ready to be put off 
by the least discouragement. In these respects there 
must be more than a human spirit to hold up the soul, 
and carry it along to the end of that which we wait 

But if God be our God, that love which engaged 
him to bind himself to us in precious promises ; will 
furnish us hkewise with grace needful, till we be pos- 
sessed of them. He will give us leave to depend 
upon him both for happiness, and all sanctifying and 

THE soul's conflict. 315 

quieting graces, which may support the soul, till it 
come to its perfect rest in God. For God so quiets 
the hearts of his children, as withal he makes them 
better, and fitter for that which he provides for them ; 
grace and peace go together ; our God is the God of 
grace and peace, of such graces as breed peace. 

1. As he is a God of love, nay, love itself to us, so 
a taste of his love, raising up our love, is better than 
wine, full of nothing but encouragement ; it will fetch 
up a soul from the deepest discouragement; this 
grace quickeneth all other graces, it hath so much 
spirits in it as will sweeten all conditions. Love ena-- 
bles to wait, as Jacob for Leah, seven years. Gen, 
xxxix. Nothing is hard to love; it carries all the 
powers of the soul with it. 

2. As he is a God of hope, so by this grace as an 
anchor fastened in heaven within the veil, he stayeth 
the soul ; that though as a ship at anchor it may 
be tossed and moved, yet not removed from its sta- 
tion. This hope, as cork, will keep the soul, though 
in some heaviness, from sinking, and as a helmet 
bear ofF the blows, that they endanger not our life, 
Eph, vi. 

3. As God is a God of hope, so by hope of pati- 
ence, which is a grace whereby the soul resigneth 
up itself to God in humble submission to his will, 
because he is our God, as David in extremity com- 
forted himself in the Lord his God, Patience 
breeds comfort, because it brings experience with it 
of God's owning of us to be his, Eph, vi. The soul, 
shod and fenced with this, is prepared against all 
rubs and thorns in our way, so as we are kept from 
taking offence. All troubles we suffer, do but help 
patience to its perfect work, Rom. v. 3; by subduing 

316 THE soul's conflict. 

the unbroken sturdiness of our spirits, when we feel 
by experience, we get but more blows, by standing out 
against God. 

4. The spirit of God, likewise, is a spirit of meek- 
ness, whereby, though the soul be sensible of evil, yet 
it moderates such distempers, as would otherwise 
rob a man of himself; and together with patience 
keepeth the soul in possession of itself. It stays 
murmurings and frettings against God or man. It sets 
and keeps the soul in tune. It is that which God 
(as he works, so he) much delights in, and sets a 
price upon it, as the chief ornament of the soul. The 
week of the earth seek God, and are hid in the day of 
his wrath, Zeph. ii. 3 ; whereas high spirits that com- 
pass themselves with pride as with a chain. Psalm 
Ixxiii. 6; thinking to set out themselves by that 
which is their shame, are looked upon by God afar off. 
Meek persons will bow when others break ; they are 
raised when others are plucked down, and stand 
when others that mount upon the wings of vanity 
fall, Matt. V. 5 ; these prevail by yielding, and are 
lords of themselves, and other things else, more than 
other unquiet spirited men : the blessings of heaven 
and earth attend on these. 

5. So, likewise, contentedness with our estate is 
needful for a waiting condition, and this we have in 
our God, being able to give the soul full satisfaction. 
For outward things God knows how to diet us ; if 
our condition be not to our mind, he will bring our 
mind to our condition. If the spirit be too big for the 
condition, it is never quieted, therefore God will level 
both. These wants be well supplied that are made 
up with contentedness, and with riches of a higher 
kind. If the Lord be our Shepherd, we can ivant 

THE soul's conflict. 317 

nothing. This lifteth the weary hands and feeble 
knees, even under chastisement, wherein though the 
soul mourneth in the sense of God's displeasure, yet 
it rejoiceth in his fatherly care. 

6. But patience and contentment are too low a con- 
dition for the soul to rest in, therefore the Spirit of 
God ariseth it up to a spiritual enlargement of joy. 
So much joy, so much light ; and so much light, so 
much scattering of darkness of spirit. We see in 
nature how a little light will prevail over the thickest 
clouds of darkness, a little fire wastes a great deal of 
dross. The knowledge of God to be our God, brings 
such a light of joy into the soul, as driveth out dark 
uncomfortable conceits; this light makes lightsome. 
If the light of knowledge alone makes bold, much 
more the hght of joy arising from our communion and 
interest in God. How can we enjoy God, and not 
joy in him ? a soul truly cheerful rejoiceth that God 
whom it loveth, should think it worthy to endure any 
thing for him. This joy often ariseth to a spirit of 
glory, even in matter of outward abasement; if the 
trouble accompanied with disgrace continue, the Spi- 
rit of glory rests upon us, and it will rest so long im- 
til it make us more than conquerors, even then when 
we seem conquered : for not only the cause, but the 
spirit riseth higher, the more the enemies labour to 
keep it under, as we see in Stephen, Acts vii. 

With this joy goeth a spirit of courage and confi- 
dence. What can daunt that soul, which in the great- 
est troubles hath made the great God to be its own ? 
such a spirit dares bid defiance to all opposite power, 
setting the soul above the world, having a spirit larger 
and higher than the world, and seeing all but God 
beneath it, as being in heaven already in its head. 

318 THE soul's conflict. 

After Moses and Micah had seen God in his favour 
to them, how httle did they regard the angry counte- 
nances of those mighty princes, that were in their times 
the terrors of the world ? the courage of a Christian 
is not only against sensible danger, and of flesh and 
blood, but ^,g2imst principalities and powers of dark- 
ness, against the whole kingdom of Satan, the god 
of the world, whom he knows shortly shall be trodden 
under his feet, Rom. xvi. 20. Satan and his may 
for a time exercise us, but they cannot hurt us. True 
behevers are so many kings and queens, so many 
conquerors over that which others are slaves to ; they 
can overcome themselves in revenge, they can despise 
those things that the world admires, and see an ex- 
cellency in that which the world sets light by, they 
can set upon spiritual duties, which the world cannot 
tell how to go about, and endure that which others 
tremble to think of, and that upon wise reasons, and 
a sound foundation, they can put off themselves, and 
be content to be nothing, so their God may appear 
the greater, and dare undertake and undergo any 
thing for the glory of their God. This courage of 
Christians among the heathens was counted obsti- 
nacy, but they knew not the power of the Spirit of 
Christ in his, which is ever strongest, when they are 
weakest in themselves, they knew not the privy ar- 
mour of proof that Christians had about their hearts, 
and thereupon counted their courage to be obstinacy. 
Some think the martyrs were too prodigal of their 
blood, and that they might have been better advised ; 
but such are unacquainted with the force of the love 
of God kindled in the heart of his child, which makes 
him set such a high price upon Christ and his truth, 
that he counts not his life dear unto him, Acts xx. 

THE soul's conflict. 319 

24.; he knows he is not his own, but hath given up 
himself to Christ, and therefore all that is his, yea, if he 
had more lives to give for Christ, he should have them. 
He knows he shall be no loser by it. He knows it 
is not a loss of his life, but an exchange for a better. 

We see the creatures that are under us will be 
courageous in, the eye of their masters, that are of a 
superior nature above them, and shall not a Christian 
be courageous in the presence of his great Lord and 
Master, who is present with him, about him, and in 
him ? undoubtedly he that hath seen God once in the 
face of Christ, dares look the grimmest creature in the 
face, yea, death itself under any shape. The fear x)f 
all things flies before such a soul. Only a Christian 
is not ashamed of his confidence. Why should not 
a Christian be as bold for his God, as others are for 
the base gods they make to themselves ? 

7. Besides a spirit of courage (for establishing the 
soul) is required a spirit of constancy, whereby the 
soul is steeled and preserved immoveable in all condi- 
tions, whether present or to come, and is not changed 
in changes. And why? but because the spirit knows 
that God on whom it rests is unchangeable. We our- 
selves are as quicksilver, unsettled and moveable, till 
the spirit of constancy fix us. We see David sets 
out God in glorious terms, borrowed from all that is 
strong in the creature, to show that he had great 
reason to be constant, and cleaving to him. He is 
my rock, my buckler^ the horn of my salvation, my 
strong tower, &c. God is a rock so deep, that no 
floods can undermine; so high, that no waves can 
reach, though they rise never so high, and rage never 
so much. When we stand upon this rock that is 
higher than we, we may overlook all waves, swelling, 

320 THE soul's conflict. 

and foaming, and breaking themselves, but not hurt- 
ing us. And thereupon may triumphantly conclude 
with the Apostle, that neither height, nor depth, 
shall ever separate us from the love of God, Rom. 
viii. 39. Whatsoever is in the creature he found in 
his God, and more abundant; the soul cannot with 
an eye of faith look upon God in Christ, but it will 
be in its degree as God is quiet and constant, the 
spirit aimeth at such a condition as it beholdeth in 
God towards itself. 

This constancy is upheld by endeavouring to keep 
a constant sight of God, for want of which it oft 
fares with us, like men, that having a city or tower 
in their eye, passing through uneven grounds, hills, 
and dales, sometimes get the sight thereof, sometimes 
lose it, and sometimes recover it again, though the 
tower be still where it was, and they nearer to it than 
they were at first. So it is oft with our uneven spirits; 
when once we have a sight of God, upon any pre- 
sent discouragement, we let fall our spirits, and lose 
the sight of him, until by an eye of faith we recover 
it again, and see him still to be where he was at 
first. The cherishing of passions take away the sight 
of God, as clouds take away the sight of the sun : 
though the sun be still where it was, and shineth as 
much as ever it did. We use to say, when the 
body of the moon is betwixt the sun and us, that the 
sun is echpsed, when indeed not the sun but the 
earth is darkened, the sun loseth not one of its glo- 
rious beams. God is oft near us, as he was unto 
Jacob, and we are not aware of it. God was near 
the holy man Asaph, when he thought him afar off. 
/ am continually with thee, saith he, thou holdest 
me by my right hand, Psalm Ixxiii. 27. Mary in her 


weeping passion could not see Christ before her, he 
seemed a stranger unto her. So long as we can keep 
our eye upon God, we are above the reach of sin or 
any spiritual danger. 


Of confirming this trust in God, ^ Seek it of God 
himself Siyis hinder not : nor Satan, Conclu- 
sion, and Soliloquy, 

§ I. T) UT to return to the drawing out of our trust 
X) by waiting. Our estate in this world is still to 
wait, and happy it is that we have so great things to 
wait for ; but our comfort is, that we have not only 
Q. furniture of graces, 2 Pet. i. 5 ; one strengthening 
another as stones in an arch, but hkewise God 
vouchsafeth some drops of the sweetness of the things 
we wait for, both to increase our desire of those good 
things, as likewise to enable us more comfortably to 
wait for them. And though we should die waiting, 
only cleaving to the promise with little or no taste of 
the good promised ; yet this might comfort us, that 
there is a life to come, that is a life of sight and 
sense, and not only of taste but of fulness, and that 
for evermore, Psalm xvi. 11. Our condition here is 
to live by faith and not by sight ; only to make our 
living by faith more lively, it pleaseth God when he 
sees fit, to increase our earnest of that we look for. 
Even here God waits to be gracious to those that 
wait for him, Isa. xxx. 18. And in heaven Christ 
waits for us, we are part of hkfuhiess, Eph. i. 23 ; it 
is part of his joy that we shall be where he is, John 
xvii. 24 : he will not therefore be long without us. 



The blessed angels and saints in heaven wait for us. 
Therefore let us be content as strangers to wait a 
while till we come home, and then we shall be for 
ever with the Lord; there is our eternal rest, where 
we sliall enjoy both our God and ourselves in perfect 
happiness, being as without need, so without desire 
of the least change. When the time of our departure 
thither comes, then we may say as David, Enter 
now my soul into thy rest. This is the rest which 
remaineth for God's people, that is worth the wait- 
ing for, when we shall rest from all labour of sin 
and sorrow, and lay our heads in the bosom of Christ 
for ever. 

It stands us therefore upon to get this great char- 
ter more and more confirmed to us, that God is our 
God, for it is of everlasting use unto us. It first begins 
at our entering into covenant with God, and con- 
tinues not only unto death, but entereth into heaven 
with us. As it is our heaven upon earth to enjoy 
God as ours, so it is the very heaven of heaven, that 
there we shall for ever behold him, and have com- 
munion with him. 

The degrees of manifesting this propriety in God 
are divers, rising one upon another, as the light 
clears up by little and little till it comes to a per- 
fect day. 1. As the ground of all the rest, we appre- 
hend God to be a God of some peculiar persons, as 
favourites above others. 2. From hence is stirred up 
in the soul a restless desire, that God would discover 
himself so to it, as he doth to those that are his, 
that he would visit our souls with the salvation of 
his chosen. 3. Hence follows a putting of the soul 
upon God, an adventuring itself on his mercy. 4. 
Upon this, God, when he seeth fit, discovers by his 

THE soul's conflict. 323 

spirit that he is ours. 5. Whence folio weth a de- 
pendance on him as ours, for all things that may 
carry us on in the way to heaven. 6. Courage and 
boldness in setting ourselves against whatsoever may 
oppose us in the way, as the three young men in 
Daniel, Our God can deliver us if he will. Our 
God is in heaven ^ &c. 7. After which springs a 
sweet spiritual security, whereby the soul is freed 
from slavish fears, and glorieth in God as ours in all 
conditions. And this is termed by the Apostle, not 
only assurance^ but the riches of assurance. Yet 
this is not so clear and full as it shall be in heaven, be- 
cause some clouds may after arise out of the remain- 
der of corruption, which may something overcast this 
assurance, until the light of God*s countenance in 
heaven for ever scatters all. 

There being so great happiness in this nearness 
betwixt God and us, no wonder if Satan labour to 
hinder the same, by interposing the guilt and hein- 
ousness of our sins, which he knows of themselves 
will work a separation : but these, upon our first 
serious thought of returning, will be removed. As 
they could not hinder our meeting with God, so they 
may cause a strangeness for a time, but not a party- 
ing, a hiding of God's countenance, but not a ban- 
ishing of us from it. Peter had denied Christ, and 
the rest of the Apostles had left him all alone ; yet 
our Saviour, after his resurrection, forgets all former 
unkindnesses ; he did not so much as object it to them, 
but sends Mary, who herself had been a great sinner, 
as an apostle to the apostles, and that presently, to 
tell them that he was risen ; his care would have no 
delay. He knew they were in great heaviness for 
their unkindness. Though he was now entered into 


the^rs^ degree of his glory, yet we see his glory 
made him not forget his poor disciples. Above all, 
he was most careful of Peter, as deeper in sin than 
the rest, and therefore deeper in sorrow. Go tell 
Peter he needs most comfort. But what is the mes- 
sage ? that / ascend not to my Father alone, but to 
your Father; not to my God only, but to your God. 

And shall not we be bold to say so after Christ 
hath taught us, and put this claim into our mouths ? 
If once we let this hold go, then Satan hath us where 
he would, every little cross then dejects us. Satan 
may darken the joy of our salvation, but not take away 
the God of our salvation. David, after his crying 
sin of murder, prays. Restore unto me the joy of thy 
salvation, Psalm h. ; this he had lost : but yet in the 
same psalm he prays, Deliver me from blood, God, 
thou God of my salvation ; therefore, whatsoever 
sense, reason, temptation, the law, or guilt upon 
conscience shall say, nay, however God himself, by 
his strange carriage to us may seem to be, yet let us 
cast ourselves upon him, and not suffer this plea to 
be wrung from us, but shut our eyes to all, and look 
upon GoA All gracious and All- sufficient, wXio is the 
Father, the begetter of comfort, 2 Cor. i. 3 ; the God, 
the creator of consolation, not only of things that 
may comfort, but of the comfort itself conveyed 
through these unto us. Who is a God like unto our 
God, that passeth by the sins of the remnant of his 
people ? This should not be thought on without ad- 
miration ; and indeed there is nothing so much de- 
serves our wonderment as such mercy, of such a God, 
to such as we. 

Since God hath avouched us to be his peculiar 
people, let us avouch him, and since he hath passed 


his word for us, let us pass our words for him that 
we will be his, and stand for him, and to our power 
advance his cause. Thus David out of an enlarged 
spirit saith, Thou art my God, and I will praise 
thee; thou art my God, and I will exalt thee. What- 
soever we engage for God, we are sure to be gainers 
by. The true christian is the wisest merchant, and 
makes the best adventure. He may stay long, but is 
sure of a safe and a rich return. A godly man is most 
wise for himself. We enter on religion, upon these 
terms, to part with ourselves, and all, when God 
shall call for it. 

§ II. God much rejoiceth in sinners converted, as 
monuments of his mercy, and because the remem- 
brance of their former sins whets them on to be more 
earnest in his service, especially after they have felt 
the sense of God's love ; they even burn with a holy 
desire of honouring him, whom before they disho- 
noured, and stand not upon 4oing or suffering any 
thing for him, but cheerfully embrace all occasions 
of expressing obedience. God hath more work from 
them than from others; why then should any be 
discouraged ? 

Neither is it sins after our conversion, that nullify 
this claim of God to be ours. For this is the grand 
difference betwixt the two covenants, that now God 
will be merciful to our sins, if our hearts by faith 
be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, Though one 
sin was enough to bring condemnation, yet the free 
gift of grace in Christ is of many offences unto 
justification. And we have a sure ground for this, 
for the righteousness of Christ is God's righteousness, 
and God will thus glorify it, that it shall stand good 
to those that by faith apply it against their daily sins, 

326 THE soul's conflict. 

even till at once we cease both to live and sin. Fof 
this very end was the son of God willingly made sin, 
that we might be freed from the same. And if all 
our sins laid upon Christ could not take away God's 
love from him, shall they take away God's love from 
us, when by Christ's blood our souls are purged from 

O mercy of all mercies, that when we were once 
his, and gave away ourselves for nothing, and so be- 
came neither his nor our own, that then he would 
vouchsafe to become ours, and make us his by such a 
way, as all the angels in heaven stand wondering at ; 
even his Son not only taking our nature and miser- 
able condition, but our sin upon him, that that being 
done away, we might through Christ have boldness 
with God as ours, who is now in heaven appearing 
there for us, until he bring us home to himself, and 
presents us to his Father for his for ever ! 

Think not then only that we are God's and he ours, 
but from what love and by what glorious means this 
was brought to pass ; what can possibly disable this 
claim, when God for this end hath founded a cove- 
nant of peace so strongly in Christ, that sin itself 
cannot disannul it ? Christ was therefore manifest, 
that he might destroy this greatest work of the devil, 
1 John iii. 5, 8. Forgiveness of sins now is one chief 
part of our portion in God. It is good therefore not 
to pore and plod so much upon sin and vileness by 
it, as to forget that mercy that rejoiceth over judg- 
ment. If we once be God's, though we drink this 
deadly poison, it shall not hurt us, Mark xvi. 18. 
God will make a medicine, an antidote of it ; and 
for all other evils, the fruit of them is by God's sanc- 
tifying the same, the taking away sin out of our na- 

THE soul's conflict. 327 

tures ; so that lesser evils are sent to take away the 
greater. If God could not over-rule evils to his own 
ends, he would never suffer them. 

§ III. I have stood the longer upon this, because it 
is the one thing needful, the one thing we should 
desire, that this one God, in whom, and from whom 
is all good, should be ours. All promises of all good 
in the new covenant, spring first from this, that God 
will be ours and we shall be his, Jer. xxxii. What 
can we have more ? and what is in the world less 
that will content us long, or stand us in any stead, 
especially at that time when all must be taken from 
us? Let us put up all our desires for all things 
we stand in need of, in this right we have to God in 
Christ, who hath brought God and us together ; he 
can deny us nothing, that hath not denied us himself. 
If he be moved from hence to do us good, that we 
are his. Let us be moved to fetch all good from him, 
on the same right that he is ours. 

The persuasion of this will free us from all pusilla- 
nimity, lowliness, and narrowness of spirit, when we 
shall think that nothing can hurt us, but it must 
break through God first. If God give quietness, who 
shall make trouble ? Job xxxiv. 29. If God be with 
us, who can be against us ? This is that which puts 
comfort into all other comforts, that maketh any bur- 
then light ; this is always ready for all purposes : our 
God is a present and a seasonable help. All evils are 
at his command to be gone, and all comforts at his 
command to come. It is but, go comfort, go peace, 
to such a man's heart, cheer him, raise him ; go sal- 
vation, rescue such and such a soul in distress. So 
said and so done presently. Nay, with reverence be 
it spoken, so far doth God pass over himself unto us. 

328 THE soul's conflict. 

that he is content himself to be commanded by us. 
Concerning the work of my hands command you me : 
lay the care and charge of that upon me. He is con- 
tent to be out- wrestled and over-powered by a spirit 
of faith, as in Jacob, and the woman of Canaan ; to 
be as it were at our service. He would not have 
us want any thing wherein he is able to help us. 
And what is there wherein God cannot help us? 
If Christians knew the power they have in heaven 
and earth, what were able to stand against them? 
What wonder is it if faith overcome the world, if it 
overcomes him that made the world ? that faith should 
be almighty, that hath the Almighty himself ready 
to use all his power for the good of them to whom he 
hath given the power of himself unto ? Having there- 
fore such a living fountain to draw from, such a 
centre to rest in, having all in one, and that one 
ours, why should we knock at any other door? we 
may go boldly to God now, as made ours, being 
bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. We may 
go more comfortably to God, than to any angel or 
saint. God in the second person hath vouchsafed 
to take our nature upon him, but not that of angels. 
Our God, and our man, our God-man is ascended 
unto the high court of heaven to his and our God, 
clothed with our nature. Is there any more able and 
willing to plead our cause, or to whom we may trust 
business with, than he, who is in heaven for all 
things for us, appertaining to God? Heb. v. 1. 

It should therefore be the cMef care of a christian, 
upon knowledge of what he stands in need of, to 
know where to supply all. It should raise up a holy 
shame and indignation in us, that there should be so 
much in God, who is so near unto us in Christ, and 

THE soul's conflict. 329 

we make so little use of him. What good can any 
thing do us if we use it not ? God is ours to use, 
and yet men will rather use shifts and unhallowed 
policies, than be beholding to God, who thinks him- 
self never more honoured by us than when we make 
use of him. If we beheve any thing will do us good, 
we naturally make out for the obtaining of it. If we 
believe any thing will hurt us, we study to decUne 
it. And certain it is, if we beHeved that so much 
good were in God, we would then apply ourselves 
to him, and him to ourselves ; whatsoever virtue is 
in any thing, it is conveyed by apphcation and touch- 
ing of it ; that, whereby we touch God, is our faith, 
which never toucheth him, but it draws virtue from 
him ; upon the first touch of faith, spiritual life is 
begun. It is a bastard in nature, to beheve any thing 
can work upon another without spiritual or bodily 
touch. And it is a monster in religion, to believe 
that any saving good will issue from God, if we turn 
from him, and shut him out, and our hearts be un- 
willing. Where unbelief is, it binds up his power. 
Where faith is, there it is between the soul and God, 
as betwixt the iron and the loadstone, a present clos- 
ing and drawing of one to the other. This is the be- 
ginning of eternal life, so to know God the Father 
and his son Christ, John xvii. 4 ; as thereby to em- 
brace him with the arms of faith and love, as ours, by 
the best title he can make us, who is truth itself. 

Since then our happiness lies (out of ourselves) in 
God, we should go out of ourselves for it, and first get 
into Christ, and so unto God in him ; and then labour, 
by the spirit of the Father and the Son, to maintain 
acquaintance with both, that so God may be ours, 
not only in covenant but in communion, hearkening 

330 THE soul's conflict. | 

what he will say to us, and opening our spirits, dis- 
closing our wants, consulting and advising in all our 
distresses with him. By keeping this acquaintance 
with God, peace and all good is conveyed to us, Job 
xxii. 21. 

Thereafter as we maintain this communion further 
with him, we out of love study to please him, by 
exact walking according to his commands ; then we 
shall feel increase of peace as our care increaseth, 
then he will come and sup with us, and be free in his 
refreshing of us. Then he will show himself more 
and more to us, and manifest still a further degree of 
presence in joy and strength, until communion in 
grace ends in communion in glory. 

But we must remember, as David doth here, to 
desire and delight in God himself, more than in any 
thing that is God's ; it was a sign of St. Paul's pure 
love to the Corinthians, when he said, / seek not 
yours, but you. We should seek for no blessing of 
God so much as for himself. 

What is there in the world of equal goodness to 
draw us away from our God? If to preserve the 
dearest thing we have in the world, we break with 
God, God will take away the comfort we look to 
have by it, and it will prove but a dead contentment, 
if not a torment to us. Whereas, if we care to pre- 
serve communion with God, we shall be sure to find 
in him whatsoever we deny for him, honour, riches, 
pleasures, friends, all ; so much the sweeter, by how 
much we have the more immediately from the spring 
head. We shall never find God to be our God more, 
than when for making of him to be so, we suffer any 
thing for his sake. We enjoy never more of him than 

THE soul's conflict. 331 

At the first we may seek to him, as rich to supply 
our wants, as a physician to cure our souls and bodies, 
but here we must not rest till we come to rejoice in 
him as our friend, and from thence rise to an admi- 
ration of him for his own excellencies, that being so 
high in himself, out of his goodness would stoop low 
to us. And we should delight in the meditation of 
him, not only as good to us, but as good in himself; 
because goodness of bounty springs from goodness of 
disposition ; he doth good because he is good, 

A natural man delights more in God's gifts than 
in his grace. If he desires grace, it is to grace him- 
self, not as grace, making him Uke unto God, and 
issuing from the first grace, the free favour of God ; 
by which means men come to have the gifts of God 
without God himself. But alas, what are all other 
goods without the chief good ? they are but as flowers, 
which are long in planting, in cherishing and grow- 
ing, but short in enjoying the sweetness of them. 
David here joys in God himself; he cares for nothing 
in the world, but what he may have with his favour ; 
and whatever else he desires, he desires only that he 
may have the better ground from thence to praise 
his God. 

§ IV. The sum of all is this, the state of God's dear 
children in this world is to be cast into variety of 
conditions J wherein, they consisting of nature, flesh, 
and spirit, every principle hath its own and proper 
working. They are sensible diS flesh and blood ; they 
are sensible to discouragements as sinful flesh and 
blood ; but they recover themselves, as having a higher 
principle (God's spirit) above flesh and blood in them. 

In this conflicting state, every principle labouring 
to maintain itself, at length by help of the spirit, 

332 THE soul's conflict. i 

backing and strengthening his own work, grace gets 
the better, keeping nature within bounds, and sup- 
pressing corruption. And this the soul, so far as it 
is spiritual, doth by gathering itself to itself, and by 
reasoning the case so far, till it concludes, and joins 
upon this issue, that the only way to attain sound 
peace is, when all other means fail, to trust in God. 
And thereupon he lays a charge upon his soul to do, 
so it being a course grounded upon the highest rea- 
son, even the unchangeable goodness of God ; who, 
out of the riches of his mercy, having chosen a people 
in this world, which should be to the glory of his 
mercy, will give them matter of setting forth his 
praise, in showing some token of good upon them, 
as being those on whom he hath fixed his love, and 
to whom he will appear not only a saviour, but salva- 
tion itself. Nothing but salvation ; as the sun is 
nothing but light, so whatsoever proceeds from him 
to them tends to further salvation. All his ways 
towards them lead to that ; which ways of his, though 
for a time they are secret, and not easily found out, 
yet at length God will be wonderful in them, to the 
admiration of his enemies themselves, who shall be 
forced to say, God hath done great things for them ; 
and all from this ground, that God is our God in 
covenant: which words are a stern that rule and 
guide the whole text. 

/For why should we not be disquieted when we are 
disquieted ? Why should we not be cast down when 
we are cast down ? Why should we trust in God as 
a saviour ? but that he is our God, making himself 
so to us in his choicest favours : doing that for us, 
which none else can do, and which he doth to none 
else that are not his in a gracious inanner.,/This 


blessed interest and intercourse betwixt God's spirit 
and our spirits, is the hinge upon which all turns : 
without this no comfort is comfortable ; with this, no 
trouble can be very troublesome. 

Without this assurance there is little comfort in 
soliloquies ; unless, when we speak to ourselves, we 
can speak to God as ours. For in desperate cases, 
our soul can say nothing to itself, to still itself, unless 
it be suggested by God. Discouragements will ap- 
pear greater to the soul than any comfort, unless 
God comes in as ours. 

See therefore David's art ; he demands of himself 
why he was so cast down ? The cause was apparent, 
because there were troubles without, and terrors 
within, and none to comfort. Well, grant this, saith the 
spirit of God in him (as the worst must be granted) ; 
yet saith the spirit. Trust in God, — So I have. 

Why then, wait in trusting ; light is sown for the 
righteous ; it comes not up on the sudden, we must 
not think to sow and reap both at once. If trouble 
be lengthened, lengthen thy patience. 

What good will come of this ? 

God will wait to do thee that good ; for which thou 
shalt praise him ; he will deal so graciously with thee, 
as he will deserve thy praise ; he will show thee his 
salvation. And new favours will stir thee up to sing 
new songs : every new recovery of ourselves or friends 
is, as it were, a new life, and ministers new matter of 
praise. And upon offering this sacrifice of praise, the 
heart is further enlarged to pray for fresh blessings. 
We are never fitter to pray, than after praise. 

But in the mean time I hang down my head, 
whilst mine enemies carry themselves highly^ and 
my friends stand aloof 

3(J4 THE soul's conflict. 

God in his own time (which is best for thee) will 
be the salvation of thy countenance ; he will com- 
pass thee about with songs of dehverance, and make 
it appear at last, that he hath care of thee. 

But why then doth God appear as a stranger 
to me ? 

That thou shouldst follow after him with the 
stronger faith and prayer ; he withdraws himself, that 
thou shouldst be the more earnest in seeking after him. 
God speaks the sweetest comfort to the heart in the 
wilderness. Happily thou art not yet low enough, 
nor purged enough. Thy affections are not thoroughly 
crucified to the world, and therefore it will not yet 
appear that it is God's good will to deliver thee. 
Wert thou a fit subject of mercy, God would bestow 
it on thee. 

But what ground hast thou to build thyself so 
strongly upon God? 

He hath offered, and made himself to be my God, 
and so hath showed himself in former times ; and I 
have made him my God, by yielding him his sove- 
reignty in my heart. Besides the present evidence 
of his blessed spirit, clearing the same, and many 
pecuUar tokens of his love, which I daily do enjoy ; 
though sometimes the beams of his favour are eclipsed. 
Those that are God's, besides their interest and right 
in him, have oft a sense of the same even in this hfe, 
as a fore- taste of that which is to come. To the seal 
of grace stamped upon their hearts, God superadds 
a fresh seal of joy and comfort, by the presence and 
witness of his spirit. And shows likewise some out- 
ward token for good upon them, whereby he makes 
it appear that he hath set apart him that is godly 
for himself, as his own, Psalm iv. 3. 


Thus we see that discussing of objections in the 
consistory of the soul, settles the soul at last. Faith 
at length silencing all risings to the contrary. All mo- 
tion tends to rest, and ends in it. God is the centre 
and resting-place of the soul, and here David takes 
up his rest, and so let us. Then whatsoever times 
come, we are sure of a hiding-place and sanctuary. 

Although the Jig-tree shall not blossom, neither 
shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olive 
shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, Sfc, 
yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God 
of my salvation, Hab. iii. 17. 

He that dwelleth in the secret pl(ice of the most 
High, shall lodge under the shadow of the Almighty, 
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge, and my 
fortress; My God, in him will I trust. Psalm xci. 1, 2. 

My strength and my heart faileth, but God is 
the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 
Psalm Ixxiii. 26. 


Actions of man, what are the principles of them, 128 

Admire God's love, 280 

Adventure of faith makes a rich return, 286 

Affections, their conflict one with another, 47; how to be ordered, 

61; in case of God's dishonour no affection is excessive, 63 ; 

why they do not always follow the judgment, 220 ; God most to 

be affected, 291 
Appearance of salvation in the countenance : whence and why, 274 
Application of mercy in particular, necessary: reasons, 282; in 

the wicked it is a lie, 284; it is no easy matter to say My God, 

284 ; when it is right, 290 ; a shame not to improve it, 299 
Arguments for faith to come to God, 244 
Art in bearing of troubles, 39 ; in misery to think of matter of 

joy, 251 
Assurance of God's favour: what we should do in the want 

thereof, 258 

Back faith, with strong reasons and arguments, 242 

Beauty, of a well-ordered soul, 80 ; of Christians' works performed 

in season, 250 
Bilney's offence at a preacher, 211 

Blasphemy : temptations of blasphemy, and how checked, 205 
Breach of inward peace : still look at thyself therein, 87 
Books, all written to amend the book of conscience, 40 

Casting down disquiets, why, 27 ; remedies against casting 

down, 28 
Censure not Christians distempered : dangerous so to do, 24 
Change of nature changeth all, 108 
Changes must be fore-thought of, 75 
Caution in fore-casting such changes, 80 ; directions for this 

fore-thinking of troubles, 71 
Character of a good soul, 220 
Christ is salvation clothed in man's flesh, 272 
Christian calling, what is the true ability to it : grace not gifts 

only, 237 ; particular calling, directions for it, 238 
Combats spiritual, how discerned from that of common grace and 

light, 50 


338 INDEX. 

Comfort in the Church's troubles, 240, 275 ; amiss, sought in 
sanctification, 18; yet to have and hold comfort, grow up in 
holiness, 19 

Comforters in way of humanity, many : few in way of Christi- 
anity, 132 ; graces necessary in a good comforter, 132; method 
of comforting, 134; a sin not to comfort the afflicted, 136; 
how comfort tendered doth no good : miscarriages therein, 158 

Communion with God to be sought, and how Christians have con- 
tinual ground of it, 250 ; of friends, in watching over one 
another, 125; in comforting one another, 127 

Complain of thyself, not of God, nor others, 43 

Concupiscence not severely censured by Papists, 90 

Condition of life : none wherein we may not exercise some 
grace, 85 ; a man can be in no condition wherein God is at a 
loss and cannot help him, 154 

Confidence in ourselves, how chased away, 1,41 ; for mercies, 
warranted to us as well as to David, or others, 252 

Conflict of grace and corruption much casts us down, 225 ; should 
make us trust in God the more, 226 

Conflicts in man's soul : kinds and degree's of them, 47 

Conscience not clear brings disquietness, 19 

Consideration, the best objects of it, 108 

Contentment, to be framed to ourselves, and how, 73 ; it is a spe- 
cial means of quieting the soul, 73 

Continuance of sin : or sins of continuance dangerous, 210 ; and 
how to be dealt withal, 210 

Corruption, how far curbed or repressed by God, 99 

Corruptions, remaining in a holy heart are natural, they would not 
be controlled, 88 ; and what follows, 92 

Courage a means to establish the soul, 5 

Court of conscience in man, 31 ; why we are so backward to keep 
this court, 35 

Deal with thyself in all afflictions, to get quietness, 68 

Death, comfort in the hour of it, 235 ; in the state after death, 

Delay not the praising of God, 261 
Defects in life rise from defects in trust, 104 ; there is a supply 

for all our defects, 228 
Deordination of nature to be looked upon, and how, 97; most 

need^l so to do, 78 
Denial of ourselves necessary, wherein, 82 ; notes of it, 83 
Desertion, then Christ should be put between God and us, 298 
Despair of mercy, no cause of it, 331 
Desperation may be, where is only a general apprehension of 

mercy, 283 
Difference between a carnal Christian and another, 256 

INDEX. 339 

Discouragement in affliction incident to God's own people, 7 ; 
causes hereof in ourselves, privative, 12; positive, 14; we are 
apt to cast down ourselves, 25 ; reasons against discourage- 
ment, the hurt that comes by it, 28 ; it crosseth our own prin- 
ciples, 32 3 in case of discouragement we should not think too 
much on our corruptions, 57 ; a godly man knows how to 
carry himself in discouragements, 46 

Disquieted, we may be for that which is not a sin to be disquieted 
for, 54 ; we may be for that which is not befitting, 55 

Disquietness for sin, when it exceeds measure, 56 

Disquietments proper to the soul, beside those of the body, 64 

Distrust the cause of all disquiet, 100 

Distempers fall, if arraigned before reason, 32 

Doubting ariseth of Popish doctrine of work, 19 

Duty, more to be thought of than comfort, 247 

Duties to be done with united forces or spirits, 19 

Eloquence of Ambrose converted Austin, 114 
Election, not known, no hinderance to our trust in God, 286 
Enemies of the Church : comfort against them, 234 
Envy not their prosperity, 277 
Estate of a Christian, how to be judged, 17 
Event of things not to be too much fore-casted, 18 
Evidence of faith more constantly upholds the soul, than evi- 
dence of sight, 31 
Evil in a holy Christian, not to be too much looked upon, 24 ; 

nor evils of the time, 24 
Evils of sin, 51 ; that are outward, how remedied, 28 
Excellencies of God to be branched out for our several uses, 297 
Exercise of grace preserves the soul, 145 
Experiments of God, treasured up in the heart, would much 

help faith, 310 
Experiences to be called to mind, 182 ; and communicated to 

others, 182 
Extremities wherein to the godly are suffered to fall, and why, 181 

Faith must own God especially, 281 ; and why, 281 ; it relies on 
a double principle, 174 ; why so requisite in Christians, 175 ; it 
is still shaken by the devil and wicked ones, 10 ; it must have 
price set on it, and how this maybe, 184, 185 ; in us no seeds 
of faith, as of obedience, 194 
Fancy to be quickly limited and restrained, 110; the proper use 

of it, 112 
Favour of God : how to preserve the sense of it, 308 
Failings pardoned, where is no malicious intention, 248 
Former favours make the soul more sensible of contrary impres- 
' sions, 2 

340 INDEX. 

Friends living, spiritual privileges by them, 128 ; departure, com- 
fort in it, 238 

Galeacius Caracciolus, hov^^ converted, 114 

God, makes every man a governor over himself, 40; still left to a 
good heart for comfort, when all others fail, 144; only is the 
fit object of trust, 153 ; cannot (out of Christ) be thought on 

, comfortably, 155; is some men's God specially, 279; hence 
is the spring of all good, 281 ; when we prove this to our souls, 
290 ; tokens of it, 293 ; comfort by it in extremities, 296 ; his 
presence sweetens all places and estates, 2; his glory more to 
be regarded than our own good, 245 ; is many salvations to his 
people, 271 ; a rock not to be undermined, 272 

Godly, men when best disposed, 67 ; they can cast restraint on 
themselves in distempers, 38 ; can make a good use of privacy, 

Great ones in most danger, 39; and why, 130 

Greatness of sin may encourage us to go to God, 207 

Grief gathered to a head, will not be quieted at the first, 3 ; it 
casteth down, as joy lifteth up, 30 ; how to be mitigated, 126 ; 
grief faulty, when, KtQ; even godly grief is to be bounded, 57 ; 
how it is to be ordered aright, 59; for sin, why we want it so 
much, 217; what we must do in the want of it, 223 ; it is not 
all at first, 223; of contrition, and of compassion, 59 

Growth in laying claim to God, 281 

Guard over the soul to be kept, 99 

Hatred of sin, a good sign of grace : notes of it, 222 

Heart, of man not easily brought unto God, 148; to be most 

watched, and kept in temper, 26 ; though vile, shall be fitted 

for God, comfort, and glory, 233 ; enlarged to praise God, is 

the chief deliverance, 257 ; of christians first cheered by God, 

then their countenance, 274 
Help, by others in discerning our estates, 161 ; where none is, yet 

trust in God, 161 
Holiness of God no discouragement to true Christians, in their 

many infirmities, 229 
Hope, the main support of a Christian, 153; the diflference of it 

from faith, 153 ; it quieteth the soul most in a hopeless estate : 

two grounds, 175, 287 
Hour of mercy not yet past, if yielded unto, 215 
Humbled persons comforted, 216 ; to humble us God need not 

go without us to fetch forces, 64; and we need go no further 

than ourselves, 88 

Idle life is ever a burden to itself, 20 
Idleness is the hour of temptation, 110 

INDEX. 341 

Imagination and opinion, the cause of much disquiet, 103 ; how 
it hurteth us, 106; how sinful imaginations work upon the 
soul, 105; the remedy and cure of this evil, 107; opportuni- 
ties of helping it to be sought and taken, 113; how it may be 
made serviceable in spiritual things, 115; not impossible to 
rule our imagination, 137 ; misconceits about them, 189 
Immanuel : a name of nature, and of office, 279 
Impediments should not discourage Christians, 227 
Impudency in wicked men, more than in devils, 305 
Inclinations of soul to the creature, should be at first subdued, 191 
Instinct supernatural leads the godly unto God, 244 
Interest in God, the ground of trusting in him, 279 
Joy and praise help each other, 254; stilleth the soul, 251 
Judgment and reason well employed, will raise up a dejected 
spirit, 31 

Large faith, and large object should be shaped together, 304 

Latimer's three prayers, all granted, 253 

Law of God (extent and spiritualness of it) to be considered, 98 

Least mercy of God must be prized, 263 

Liberty, Christian may not be unknown, nor yet abused, 20, 67 

Life of a Christian, a life of trouble, 63 ; of Christians, a mixture 

of good and evil, 250; hid, 301 ; we lose ourselves most by 

yielding most to ourselves, 36 
Love such things as can return love, 72 
Love of God, to be looked at in every mercy, 72 ; not to b& 

questioned : grounds, 173 
Love-tokens from God, arguing he is ours, 293 
Luther assured of a particular mercy in prayer, 253 

Massacre of France terrible afterward to the king, 40 

Means, whether relied on or not, 200 

Mercy of God must not be limited by man's sins, 209 ; it is 

God's name, he pleads for it, 313 
Moon in the change nearest the sun ; so we to God iu greatest 

dejection, 11 
Motions of sin to be at first crushed, 76 
Murder of the tongue, 12 

Nature of man, since sin first came in, subject to misery and sorrow, 
5; proved, 6; applied, 7; divine, the only counter-poison of 
sin, 100 

Nature's favourers, enemies of grace, 96 

Natural righteousness in Adam, 91 ; sins in us, voluntary too, 94 

Objects of religion or conversation, not to be substituted, 186 
Offence against God, takes not away trust in God, 147 

342 INDEX. 

Omission of duties breeds trouble to the soul, 21 
Opinions of others not to be too much heeded, 23, 73 
Opposition to sin in the godly is universal, 52 
Over-joying in outward comforts, breeds trouble, 22 
Outward things, no fit stays for the soul, 187, 189 

Passions conflict one with another, 47; not to be put to our 

troubles, 73 ; hid till drawn out : and how this is, 74 
Peace the epitome of all good, 81 
Perseverance in grace warranted, and how, 226 
Portion of the godly is God alone, 302 
Power that we have over ourselves, is of God, 141 
Prayer needful to keep ourselves in temper, 37 ; heard : signs of 

it, 265; and praise depend on each other, 247, 266 
Praise in trouble more minded by the godly than their delivery, 

245 ; special times to praise God, 248 ; no easy matter to praise 

God aright, 257 ; conditions, 262 ; motives, 268 ; means of 

performing it, 268 
Prepare for an alteration of thy estate and spirit, 25 
Presence of God with his children in worst times, what it doth for 

them, 249 
Pride must ever be taken down though the spirit be dejected, 37 
Pride and passion, mischievous, 35 
Promises of God, what they are in divers respects, 172; are not 

all reserved for heaven, but partly verified on earth, 170 
Property in God chiefly to be laboured for, 283 
Providence of God makes all good to us, as himself is good, 155; 

it is a special stay of our faith, 157; what God is he makes 

good by providences, 157 ; graces to be exercised in observing 

divine providence, 162 

Real praises of God necessary, 264 ; things put out troublesome 

thoughts, 107 
Reason for sin, none at all, 243 
Reasons of a godly man are divine, 243 
Relations wherein we stand to God, must be all answered, and 

how, 175 
Relapses pardonable and curable, 214 
Repentance begins in the love of God, 116 
Resolution, necessary in Christianity, 257; want of it breeds 

much disquiet, 21 ; firm and peremptory to be assumed, 149; 

renew it, 150; and that quickly, 150 

Salvations of God, plentifully and manifold, 269 ; to be thought 

upon in trouble, 272; the golden chain of it, 283 
Satan and his instruments still casting down the godly, 8 
Satan's cunning in divers humours of Christians, 15; to discou- 

INDEX. 343 

rage those whom God encourageth, 313; study to unloose 
the heart from God, 196; and to divide between God and us, 

Self-denial requisite to praise God, 257 

Self, what in the godly, and what in others, 65 

Signs of a good estate, 17 

Sickness, comfort in it, 232 

Sin ever unreasonable amidst seeming reasons, 34; is the great- 
est trouble, 234; avoid not trouble by sin, 234; sweet in com- 
mitting, bitter in the reckoning, 207 

Side with God in evil times, 294 

Sight of God not always alike, reasons of it, 31 1 

Soliloquies of special use, 128 

Solitariness ill for afflicted ones, 137; intolerable to the wicked, 
why, 40 

Sorrow weakens the heart, 27 ; not required for itself, as sorrow, 
216; cannot make satisfaction, 216; dangerous to desire it 
over-much, 219; Popery in it: comfortable degree of sorrow 
for sin, when, 221 

Soul's most constant estate in respect of sin, 334; excellency, in 
reflecting on itself, and judging all its issues, 41; temper when 
right, 58 

Soul to be cited, and pressed to give accounts, 36; debased by 
wicked men, 42 ; should be first set in order, 44; needs some- 
thing beside itself to uphold it, 65 ; though over-borne a while, 
gets free again, 152; if gracious, most sensible of the want of 
spiritual means, 4; knows when it is well with it, when ill, 4 

Superstition, the force of it, 106 

Symmetry of soul most lovely, 80 

Temptation divine, what it is, 8 

Thanks, then best, when it tends to praising, 261 ; should be 

large, 262 
Thankfulness never without some taste of mercy, 264 ; it is a 

special help in an afflicted condition, 264; excellent use of 

it, 270 
Thoughts to be set in order every morning, 118; are not free, 118 

danger of that opinion, 121 ; of praise should be precious to 

us, 235 
Titles : empty titles of goodness bring but empty comfort at last, 

306; our title in God to be maintained against all cavils, 290 
Trade of conversing with God, the richest in the world, 259 
Trial of trust, whether it be right, 202 

Troubles, outward, appointed to help the soul inwardly, 41 ; in- 
ward : three-fold miscarriage of it, 44 ; there is a sanctified use 

of all troubles to God's children, 80 
Trust is the means to bring God and the soul together, 153; to 

344 INDEX. 

settle trust, know the mind as well as the nature of God, 172 ; 
must answer the truth of God, 175; directions about trust- 
ing, 176 ; whether we may trust to friends, riches, or helps, 185 j 
a sin so to do, 188 : trust itself not to be trusted in, 131 

Trusting should follow God's order of promising, 193 

Trial of ourselves exceeding necessary, 75 

Victory over ourselves : signs of it, 83 ; how it may be obtained, 86 

Uniformity necessary in the lives of Christians, 87 

Unthankful ness to God, most sinful, 259 ; detestable to God and 

man, 266 
Unworthiness may not keep from God, 286 

Waiting on God, a necessary duty, 255 ; what it is to wait, 256 ; 

be ever in a waiting condition, 309; difficult: helps to wait 

on God, 314 
Will of man hath a sovereignty, 94; of the godly, conformable 

to God's will, 246 
Worldly good hath some evil, and worldly evil hath some good, 77 

Yet not in hell, nor at worst, a mercy and undeserved, 249 
Youth to be curbed quickly, 37 







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